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They’re Dazzling: Renoir’s Dancing Women
“Renoir painted beautiful pictures as an antidote for the unpleasantness in the world.”
– Dominique H. Vasseur, Associate Curator of European art, Columbus Museum of Art
Dancing Girl with Castanets, 1909.
The National Gallery, London
They’re life-sized, voluptuous. They’re extravagantly, provocatively costumed, and their pudgy feet are fashionably small. They are Renoir’s Dancing Girl with Castanets and Dancing Girl with Tambourine. They knock you dead, and they emit historic vibrations.
Painted in 1909, the dancers once shimmied in the luxurious dining room of a wealthy industrialist, Maurice Gangnat – Gangnat entertained à la Donald Trump, and he eventually purchased 100 paintings by Renoir. Pierre-Auguste Renoir, famous for his glowing and ponderous nudes, did not condescend to the popular taste, he elevated it. This he achieved by giving each canvas his painterly best, which remains unbeatable, equalled, perhaps, but unbeatable.
In Gangnat’s dining room, the two dancers posed with a large decorative mirror between them. It was an expensive, special-ordered mirror. At parties in those days, everything glittered – decanters, sherry cups, topaz watch fobs, garnet hair clasps, diamond tiaras, saltcellars, butter dishes, and conversations. All glittered when candles glowed, and yes, newfangled electric fixtures astounded everyone.
In Gangnat’s banquet hall, the dancers could look down upon garnet brooches, décolleté gowns, and powder-brushed shoulders. They lah-lahhed at the cut and swagger of coats-and-tails worn by the men. Everyone who was anyone had a favorite tailor.
The dancers heard gossip about lipsticked actresses at Comédie-Francaise. And, as late as 1909, they might have heard repercussions from the Dreyfus Affair and the resultant Franco Prussian War in which Renoir had served – there was a draft – but did not see action. It was the Time Between the Wars, The Years of Banquets, La Belle Epoch.
People liked Renoir. Besides being an extremely strong painter, he was Clintonesque, a good friend, a great guy at a party. His clients and his dealer became his friends; he was loyal to them. His artistic colleagues – Sisley, Bazille, Morisot, to name a few – were lifelong comrades. Renoir often painted in the homes of his clients; sometimes they stayed with him. House parties and long visits were frequent pleasures.
The dancers’ sidewise poses and curved arms suggest Greek dancers on friezes. Yet, their garb whispers of danse orientale. The French were colonizing Algeria, and Renoir would enjoy a plein air visit there. And the dancers did not attend Weight Watchers, nor did any of Renoir’s spectacular and glowing nudes! Corpulence is a plus for the enthusiastic painter.
Her background is a marvelous hodge podge of olive greens, dust oranges, and smidgeons of dull gold. There are no recognizable shapes in the background.
Dancing Girl with Tambourine poses with one knee slightly bent, one foot forward, her plump arms curved. With hands, blossom pale, fingers tapered, she holds the big tambourine with the palms of her hands and her thumbs, but she’s not really tapping. She’s three-quarters turned so that her blue eyes gaze upon us. Her soft brown hair, parted in the middle, drawn back in a circlet, whispers of Titian’s red.
Her skin emits that cream-and-roses glow that enables Renoir’s nudes to dance off the walls. Her detailed costume consists of loose impressionistic.strokes. Her draped overskirt is brick-orange-red, carmine. Renoir’s hallmark red that travels from painting to painting.
The red skirt “sets off” a translucent ivory gown embellished with blue puffs. A medley of strokes – almond whites, grays – form this garment that shockingly permits glimpses of calves and ankles!
I looked and looked and retained the possibility that the “skirts” may have been fabric looped into Harem trousers. You decide for yourself.
The red skirt, and an overlay of shadows, divides the painting, draws the eye to the dancer’s face. She’s an innocent dancer, and Renoir wants us to see her primrose smile.
Dancing Girl with Tambourine wears green, decorated, heel-less slippers that are definitely Turkish. Again, a touch of the Orient.
Both the Dancing Girl with Tambourine and Castanets share the same body but not the same face. One model, Georgette Pigeat, a seamstress, posed for both paintings. She may have designed the dresses. The Girl with Castanets, creamy skinned and langourous, has dark eyes and black hair. In real life she was Gabrielle, Mme Aline Renoir’s cousin, who helped out with Renoir’s children. She posed for the dancer’s face. See how she closes her eyes and stares at the floor. She seems rather “Spanish” in her little bolero and grey hip drape. The better to dance in. Her skirt is shadowy with strokes, her gown is garlanded with pink flowers. She wears poppies in her hair – oh, yes, she wears red Turkish slippers.
Sewing and Reading
In this oil on canvas, the model for Portrait of a Girl Sewing resembles Renoir’s wife, Aline, who was registered as “a seamstress living with her mother” before Renoir married her in 1890. Girl Sewing called out, a pink symphony in which tones of a similar intensity have clustered to form a moment. The girl’s brown hair ensnares the light. Renoir knew each exact spot where the sun hit the wicker chair, the drapes, the sewing room and the pinkish dress. The fabric, embroidered with roses, unrolls like a feathery parchment in the girl’s diligent hands. Renoir was marvelous with the anatomy of hands! The girl’s focus is sewing, not on us, not on the window, nor her sensuous painter. Next to the Portrait of A Girl Sewing hangs Gabriel Reading. And yes, the reader’s face is the face of the Dancing Girl with Castanets, Cousin Gabriel!
Renoir’s knowledge of color, his asperity of brush, enabled all of his paintings to dance. His unforgettable, sombre portrait of young Thérèse Berard, dances with luminosity. Her hair is a sedate river of fine, fine strokes. Her face gleams, a cameo against purple and midnight. Bathing Woman, a sumptuous nude painted in 1879, has chestnut hair, rasperries and cream skin, and poises like a big seal woman against an ocean of vivid strokes. You’ll find a favorite dancer too.
Paris 1900, a VideoBuckeye Women at the Riffe: Stand Up and Cheer
“Renoir’s Women” includes an outstanding video in which the feisty if wizened Renoir paints away despite crippling arthritis. (He has a cigarette first, of course – it’s 1900!) You’ll see the handsome composer Debussy gesticulate for the motion picture camera.
“Renoir’s Women” opened in September; many fine writers have covered it. Bedazzled, and bringing up the rear, I present you with my impressions.
The exhibit closes January 8, 2006. The Columbus Museum of Art is at 480 East Broad St. Sometimes the exhibit is crowded. It’s best to call 614-221-4848 for information.
Renoir died in 1919. Excepting Berthe Morisot, he never approved of women artists. He did not approve of Mary Cassatt, his contemporary, a major American artist with a mind of her own. But the outspoken Cassatt with her warm heart and independent spirit was a harbinger of things to come. Underpaid and over married, single and overworked, teaching and composing portrait painting for their livelihoods, women artists perservered. Simultaneous to the Renoir exhibit, the Riffe Center Gallery proudly presents the inspiring “Breaking With Tradition: Ohio Women Painters, 1870 to 1950.” Columbus’s Alice Schille is but one of these power artists. The show, which runs through January 8, contains a variety of media, styles, and subjects and is a definite don’t miss.
"My title, Hezou-Goma means peace is on the way. But this word for peace, hezou, refers to inner peace, a peace-bringing spirit. And my son, Hezou, will be one year old on December 12. I named this show for him."
– Talle Bamazi, director and proprietor of KIACA gallery
Hezou-Goma, a startling high-caliber exhibit, will show at Kiaca Gallery, 941 N High St., through December. As a new father, artist-curator Talle Bamazi is ecstatic. As an artist who paints frequently in oils, he is a powerful technician. What he envisions, his brush can do Bamazi’s Hezou-Goma exhibit consists of two sections. On one wall the large “gourd” oil paintings are unified by form, color, size and subject.
On the wall opposite are the smaller works, framed drawings, and they too are unified by form, color, size, and subject. One female figure is the central figure in each presentation in each series. The large on-linen paintings range from 58 x 48 inches to 48 x 36 inches. In each of them, a woman’s body – mythic, ethnic, or representative – has been mingled with the nourishing image of the gourd. The calabash, or gourd, remains an African symbol for sustenance and hospitality – fertility.
At this time of year the gourd images and their hues seem appropriate to autumn and to the traditions of all indigenous and tribal people. The gourd paintings verge on monochromatic. For his palette, Bamazi has employed variations of tan and brown and has framed them with black and occasional whispers of burgundy. The canvases are bereft of greens, reds, blues. Again, brown, an earth-and-sun color, dominates, and there is no background to speak of. Each sensual/spiritual/female/gourd image nearly fills each canvas.
A design aesthetic – compositional, traditional, symbolic – has been explicated through curves, dots, feathers, zig zags, stripes. We note “marks” that suggest basket weavings, feathers, pottery, drum designs and drinking gourds.
Among these dancing patterns and marks ride the breasts, the hips, knees of a woman’s body. Yes, we can see the woman’s female anatomy, yet in some of the paintings, she is without a head. Certainly she is always without eyes or a face. In short, she is a representative, headless woman. That concept is somewhat disturbing: Is she a woman objectified?
The artist declares that he loves women, that everything comes from Her, that She is indeed Creative Force, Art Source, and that She exists inside him. Because of the originality and power of the paintings, I have let the matter go for the time being. She is the essence of traditional African woman. She is the Mother and from her was born Hezou-Goma.
Bamazi, who hales from Togo in West Africa, speaks French. The paintings have bilingual titles. Each painting is “round” yet dances on a “square” canvas.
Ego of the Woman
Vibrating with swirls, curves, circles, Ego of the Woman, or Femme et Son Moi, 58 x 48 inches, presents rich curves, two larger than life breasts which resemble gourds; her nipples are discs which suggest broken-off gourd stems. She is kneeling, her two giant knees framed by diamond patterns and blunted feathers. Alas, Femme et Son Moi has a head that seems to be a decorated bowl, likely a gourd, with jagged cream-like spill emerging from it.
An Independent Spirit, Le’ Independance de Esprit, the powerful female is seen from the back. Her graceful arms slide into the curve of Nature’s Bowl. Her adjacent patterns are reminiscent of the designs on Russian Easter Eggs. All things, indeed, are connected. Here, again, the woman’s head is a calabash.
Although the entire series is conjoined in color, design, and size, each painting is fascinating and unique. It’s possible that a few art nouveau painters, or even some of Aubrey Beardlsey’s black-and-white illustrations, employed similar monochromatic patterns, ancient marks and swirls. But in the here and now, Bamazi’s “gourd” series seems strikingly unique.
Nine drawings, around 10 x 12 inches, smaller than the large gourd paintings, hang on one wall. These small “paintings” form a series which is unified by austerity and finesse. They’re elegant, and cool (reminiscent of fashion drawings) and collectors should go for them! There are no backgrounds. Each faceless woman stands in the center of either black paper or lemon paper. She is a finely drawn figure – veiled, turbaned, or robed – and she seems to be in motion.
At first I thought these were superb and delicate graphite drawings. But Bamazi informed me that they had been executed with 99-cent black ballpoint pens! (Talk about a master’s touch!)
There are no titles on the small works. Bamazi told me that each woman has a name, like The Mood, or The Look. – Remember Brigitte Bardot, her head scarf, and The Look? Figure III is wound in diaphonous fabric – an Arabian Nights kaftan, perhaps – yet we can see the weave in these tiny garments. She’s thin. Yes, invisible. Her torso contains an oval opening. Through her creator’s skill she appears to dance against the lemon background.
In October, Talle Bamazi was featured in an attractive slick magazine, the October issue of African Weekender. In his article, Michael Kwame Itoka exclaimed “Move Over Picasso! Talle Bamazi has Arrived.”
There is never a dull moment at Kiaca Gallery. In 2006, Talle assured me, “the most famous artist in Nigeria” will have a one-man show here. And in January, the noted artist from TogoLand, Kisito Assangni, will fly in from Paris, for a solo exhibit. “He is a very, very esteemed contemporary painter!”
In the meantime Hezou Bamazi, going on one year, is a cute, plump, sturdy little guy who is frequently seen in his Dad’s arms, riding the range, or the artistic veldt, at Kiaca Gallery. The tot has an irresistible grin, and he has already been seen holding a paint brush, or the equivalent thereof.
Kiaca Gallery, 941 North High St. 614-298-0018. Hours: M-F 1-6, Sat 1-8.
Love Between the Atoms: Eva Kwong
WOOZ, by Eva Kwong
“Love Between the Atoms,” ceramic art sculpture by Eva Kwong, will show at Sherrie Gallerie through October 31, 2005. Kwong, an esteemed artist and an instructor at Kent State University, plans to be present at the opening, so if you’re reading this article on Hop night, be sure to drop by.
I fell in love with Kwong’s sculpture when I bopped in to windowshop at Sherrie’s and saw two examples of Kwong’s “Peaches” series. I was glad to learn that hers was the next show up.
Dark Peach, around 12 inches long, consists of wood-fired stoneware and glistens. Perhaps it has been glazed over its natural ash-dusted surface, perhaps not. Glazing and heating are complex processes. Peach glows a crackled gray-green, like the spotted creature it is. Sherrie explained that when the clay is wood-fired, the ash from the burning wood is allowed to fall on the surface of the sculptured object and becomes part of it. This process endows the Peach with a glistening yet shadowy surface that seems to have been weathered, encrusted. It’s like a beautiful fossil, yet the surface is smooth.
White Peach is slightly smaller than her Dark sister and appears to be unglazed. She’s as white and dusty as a swan feather. She bears two bluish markings that suggest characters, marks. – Kwong’s peaches emit beautiful vibes from the cosmos, the natural world.
I couldn’t help but think of a Korean folk tale in which a magical boy emerges from a peach. I couldn’t help but think of how Kwong’s peaches are voluptuous, creased, like the anatomy of the mythic peaches, a burlesque dancer.
Standing next to “the Peach sisters,” was an object from Kwong’s “Opposites Attract” series. The Octopus Leg Vase is about a foot tall, and in September it held faded roses. Leg is a glistening dull burgundy, and yes, Leg is a tentacle with yellow dots. Leg’s very attached companion, Egg, shines yellow, and its surface dances with yellow and orange polka-dots. Opposites and receptors attract!
Sculptures from the “Peach” series and the “Opposites” series will be around in October during the new show.
Love Between the Atoms
“Love Between the Atoms,” Kwong’s new series, possesses a more “edgy” aspect than “Peaches,” and provides a more startling ambiance than the appealing and wacky “Opposites.” The new work stems from Kwong’s interpretation of macrocosms and microcosms. You’ll enjoy these quirky shapes and surfaces.
Acalephoid & Co.
An Acalephoid with orange spots stands up on “legs” and shines in it porky pink-dotted earth clay. He, or she, is a plump jolly sort, ready to bop-dance. His top is a neck or a snout or a spout-a-device that causes the reader to run to the Websters and look up Acalephoid! Sea nettles or jelly fish. Kwong’s pink creature/object forms a tripod, up and down.
W00Z III is a similar object, an “oid,” shaped like a big fat egg. It’s also a tripod, but here the appendages are definitely legs. W00Z III is 16-inches tall and includes a 6-inch bowl. Like the other clay sculptures in “Love Between The Atoms.” it is “wheel thrown, earthenware, with colored slip glazes.”
Domo Vase III wears micro-dots, and a shiny green-dotted “hump” is attached to its curved half, a receptacle or a stem vase. Green dots, pink dots, here’s a natural world gone glad! “Love Between The Atoms” fuses science with visual art.
Kwong writes “this attraction of opposites, the intertwining of dualities, has informed all my work for several decades. I am interested in the juxtaposition of mass/space, land/air, solid/hollow, male and female, forms. I feel I am a hybrid made of opposites.”
Eva Kwong grew up in New York and Hong Kong, and her beloved grandmother daily, spontaneously, spoke to her of yin and yang, the concept of opposites. Kwong currently teaches at Kent State. She has an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pa., and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design where she was much influenced by the Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab.
In 2004, Kwong received an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship award for her prints and drawings, and in 1999 and 1994 she was awarded Ohio Arts Council Fellowships for ceramics. In 2003, she won first place in the NCECA Interna-tional Exchange Program Award to China. She is much in demand as a lecturer and a teacher. Her exhibition list is extensive and includes 15 exhibitions in 2005 alone. “Love Between the Atoms” was recently exhibited at Schein-Joseph International Museum of ceramic Art at New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.
Sculptors Jan Wunderlich and Andrew Lidgus are two of a squadron of top notch sculptural artists to be found at Sherrie Gallerie. Their work is spectacular and unique.
Don’t Miss Steven Spielberg at the Riffe!
“Made In Ohio/Diverse Sources” will show at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery, 77. S. High St., through October 16, 2005. Nineteen first-rate Ohio Art League artists appear in this exhibit meticulously curated by Annegreth Nill. A Riffe assistant told me, “Everybody loves this show. Passersby come in and they like it, they ‘get’ it!”
The show includes Phillip Brou’s reconstruction of Steven Spielberg’s childhood home in Cincinnati. You can see Spielberg’s birth certificate, architectural plans, the constructed home, and a fine painting. You’ll see the roots of a success story.
Louise Captein’s large oil canvases? A one-woman expressionist ballet! Kojo Kamau’s fused pilgrimages to Africa, to the Ivory Coast, and Brazil make a heart- warming photo journey. Betsy DeFusco’s perceptual abstracts, and Robert Metzgers’ meditational photo abstractions reign. They create visual tone poems.
Tamara Jaeger’s tall found wood sculptures suggest fairy tales from what used to be called “the Orient.” Cheong-ah Hwang’s three-dimensional Medicine Cabinet you’ll find hand lotion, soap, vaseline, toothpaste, etc. Each container is made of paper!
The Ohio Art League has over 500 members. The O. A. L. Fall Juried Show will open at Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery on November 4 and run through December 9, 2005. Curator will be Joe Houston, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Columbus Museum of Art. In the meantime, don’t miss “Made in Ohio/Diverse Images.”
Personal responses to Betsy DeFusco’s paintings may be found at my site: www.lizjamesartscene.blogspot.com
PS: All of Malcolm Baroway’s beautifully framed paintings (see last issue) contain handcrafted wood nameplates gilded with 23k gold by The Gold Leaf. Click on http//thegoldleaf.com
Malcolm Baroways "Long Time Passing"
Malcolm Baroway has painted bridges
such as Le Pont au Change in Paris. "
Malcolm Baroway’s paintings are deliciously original. They’re never flamboyant or outré, and his palette is a muted one. His show, “Long Time Passing” will open at Sharon Weiss Gallery, 20 E. Lincoln Street, on September 2 and run through the month.
This artist has a feel for tradition, for European and American art history, as well as very contemporary art. That enthusiasm undergirds his aesthetic, which is an engaging one. He is not truly a minimalist, yet his renderings are quite spare.
The merry-go-round in Carousel might be found on the outskirts of Paris a hundred years ago or on the Mall in Washington, D. C., today. Yet, this smallpainting, 12 x 16 inches, began when Baroway visited a little fair at St. Catherine’s in the Eastmoor district of Columbus.
Carousel has, like each of Baroway’s paintings, been spiffily framed in red wood with a nameplate handcrafted from wood and gilded with 23k gold.. It’s an oil painting – Baroway paints only in oils. He does not underpaint, although he sometimes uses a darker color underneath sections, and employs “a pretty big brush.”
With crude diminishing strokes that big brush has formed childhood’s favorite ride, a Carousel: Carousel is an assemblage of brush marks. A strong pink emanates from its center. Sections of peaked roof and sky have been depicted through warm tones. Baroway is not averse to grays, to graying blues and whites. Up front, white squiggles may represent horses, or a delighted audience, or a fence. Never mind – the painting works. Colors play off each other, perform a contra dance.
The painting takes time: A ferris wheel, almost invisible, churns to the upper left. Lime sprigs poke every which way. Black lines may represent poles. To the left, an inch-high shed, roughly sketched in black, announces “tickets” in jagged mini letters.
The Impressionists of the 1860s did not wanted to paint realistic or photographic scenes. Their strokes formed “impressions,” expressive views, and light was key. So it is with Baroway’s paintings. They cross the line into post-Impressionism; brush strokes are spare and sometimes crude, but the effect remains. The impression is shifting, and turns slowly, like a carousel.
Baroway is constantly on the prowl, looking, photographing, and painting. Not rain, but snow has fallen in The Garden, 24 x 63 inches, an impression of a venue north of the Short North. Need we say, the former site of a burlesque theater? Although this is a quiet, austere painting, Baroway has managed to drench it with an appealing deja vu: vibes from a vanished, shabby Left Bank reach us through lovely, if murky, colors and shapes.
The scene is controlled by a slightly off- center black-and-white sign, “Garden.” Two small posters and the sign form a triad, anchoring the painting entire which includes a narrow stretch of gray sky and retro “cornices.”
This is a simple scene of angles, squares, lights, windows. Of apartments and offices in a familiar High Street block. Chalky tones smoulder. Building sections have been painted gold – white, or lilac pink; some windows are misty with green. One building’s a dull olive green. In each lower corner hunches a dark lumpy car with white windshields. Baroway’s composition is solid.
Black strokes form striding silhouettes; tiny men, hatted and bundled, stumble over snow and ice. In Baroway’s imagination: “these are the customers. It’s cold, but maybe they’re kind of slouched, walking fast so prying eyes would not see them going into the Garden. – that’s how it seemed to me.”
Baroway loves vacationing in Maine with his wife Dee. He loves the ocean. “I wouldn’t be happy without staring at the water,” he says. He has painted bridges such as Le Pont au Change in Paris. His Lobster Boats, Monhegan, was a prize winner in the 2003 Bexley Art League competition.
The Blue Chair, Baroway’s expressionist portrait of a grandaughter, contains a meld of austere colors, yet is kind of a line drawing in paint. Rendered details are few. “I’m a perfectionist, but I know when to quit,” Baroway says.
The subject’s face is heart-shaped. She gazes earnestly and the ash lines of her hair fall straight. Almost filling up the frame, her arms akimbo, she sits in a dark blue pinafore in a dark room in The Blue Chair. Picasso and Matisse are looking on, but we can’t see them.
My favorite Baroway? You’ve got to stand there and wait for Village Fountain to hit you. This painting is actually of the German Village fountain where a statue-woman holds an umbrella. It’s raining. After a while, Baroway’s impressionist rain (gray-green, dark blue, misty) becomes so real that you want to step into it.
When Mel Baroway was a boy in Queens, New York, he loved drawing pictures and he wanted to be an artist, but his father did not want him to make the hour-and-a-half commute alone to the Manhattan High School of Music & Art. So, at age 13 the disconsolate kid “gave up art and took another path.”
Eventually Baroway would earn degrees in English and Creative Writing through The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. He would spend 40 years in advertising, attaining top posts in the field of university public relations at the the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University.
Baroway did not begin painting until he was in his late 50s. Now 68, he’s a powerhouse of a man, stockily built. Along the way, he’s studied art at Ohio Wesleyan and at Columbus College of Art and Design. He names instructor Marty Kalb as a major influence.
Baroway says he is self-taught from years of observation and has been inspired by the Impressionists and post-Impressionists and the American Realist Ash Can School. (Noted Columbus artist George Bellows, an Ash Can painter, used the rich dusky colors one often sees in a Baroway.)
Reminiscing, Baroway adds, “I know myself; I knew when I retired from my regular job I’d go crazy if I didn’t have something to do, and I knew I could paint. A couple of years ago I had three major illnesses and surgeries. I didn’t paint then because getting well was a full-time job. I was almost a dead artist!”
Now Baroway is going full swing. His art is winning juried awards. He has had one-man shows at Roy G Biv Gallery and the Ohio State University Faculty Club Gallery. In 2001, he won the Michael Orr Gallery award at the Ohio Art League, and his Temptation, New Orleans was accepted at both the Art League show and the Ohio State Fair.
Again, Lobster Boats, Monhegan was a prize winner in the 2003 Bexley Art League Competition, and his Van Gogh won the 2003 Juror’s Prize at the Lancaster Art Guild. Tower of London was judged the best oil in the Guild’s 2004 Spring Show. His list of “art in personal collections” fills an entire page!
Malcolm Baroway’s paintings are “sleepers.” At first, a flurry of crude strokes, they settle into a rare ballet. At first the source of their undeniable charm is a mystery. After awhile one realizes that the actual subject of each painting is painting!
Sharon Weiss Gallery is at 20 East Lincoln Street. Hours are Thursday and Friday Noon to 4pm; Saturday Noon to 5pm; Sunday 1 - 4pm. Call 614-291-5683.
Many fine paintings and photos hang at Mac Worthington Galerie, 749 N. High Street. Worthington is a marvelous sculptor of aluminum. His fantastic structures gleam everywhere. He is always looking for new artists and likes to build working relationships with them. The studio is crowded, not cluttered, with something attractive in every nook.
The term “Gems” as used in this article’s title is intended to suggest small gleaming treasures that are somewhat hidden and must be mined. And so it is with the gem-like paintings and photographs described below, and they will remain available through Mac Worthington Galerie.
Seasons III, watercolor by Holly Rauch
Holly Rauch’s watercolors are simple yet alluring. She has a no-fail minimalist’s touch, and her work is modest in size and execution. In California Dreaming, a section of white sharp-edged surf rolls in, spatters toward curved sandy areas. A bumpy islet of camel-hued sand is riddled with inroads of blue and white. The eye is drawn upward through this painting in which brush work is sharp-edged yet ebullient. In other words, although this is not a “washy” painting, the feel of seaflow is visible. Rauch knows her craft, and she knows the value of simplicity. She also understands surrealism. In Down Under, the sun is as blue as an enlarged gentian. The terrain is a layered meld of blues, pale aquas, and purples. Down Under is more liquid than California Dreaming, and the small scene blooms like a desert flower when you give it time. Watercolor is a difficult medium and Rauch handles it well, varying her technique from painting to painting. Her deceptively simple work is meditational: the more I looked, the more I liked.
Bryan Kelling’s small black-and-white photographs provide a treat for the connoisseur. Sky Moves is gorgeous, detailed, contemporary. So classic, it’s edgy. The scene may be Columbus. A cluster of ten-story office buildings have been lit from behind with wing-like sweeps of light. The spirit of night has airbrushed the sky. Over a hundred office windows, all the same size, lit and unlit, gleam without applied glitter. Street lights have become star-bursts. Far, far away, behind the complex of offices, the tower of a skyscraper – be it LaVeque or Empire State – raises a light-tipped antenna. Lightning, light, lightness. Sky Moves crackles with beauty. Looking at Short North, we surmise that Bryan Kelling has known VanGogh in a previous life. This small rectangular urban scene dances with stars which do not glitter from the sky but from Short North restaurants and galleries. The mottled sky was cut from dove gray satin. The composition is set off by Short North arches – obstinately unlit! Kelling’s Untitled Angel is a neo romantic delight – barely visible but definitely there, suspended in a photographer’s clouded if cerebral firmament. Yet, GMC, sharp-edged, excerpted, is edgy in its cropped automotive glory!
Employing imaginative digital skills Mark Scheuring exhibits one photo a month at Worthington Galerie. In July he showed his small Tree Rocking. It’s a blithe still life which includes an ornament, a stippled egg, a large red rock, and the delicate, strong, Bonsai-like tree. In all, eight colorful objects have been arranged on a flecked glass surface around the Self Tree photo which is sort of an upbeat Rorschach.
Traci M. Park
Columbus art photographer Traci M. Park is something of a star (a 24-carat gem) at Worthington’s, and deservedly so. Her enlarged nature images – medium-size closeups of irises, tulips, pond lily leaves – translate into sheer poetry. The attractive and bubbly Park has been legally blind since she was 26 years old, 12 years ago. Her blindness was caused by a series of hemorraghes which left her with a corrected vision of 20/400. In May 2005, The Ladies Home Journal featured Traci M. Park in a first-rate article by Dennis McCafferty. Traci told McCafferty how, upon viewing her work, one elderly woman exclaimed, “Oh, my, it’s like looking inside a flower!” Looking at Parks lovely detailed work, I thought of the English poet William Blake’s admonition to “see infinity in a grain of sand.” Intentionally or not, Park infuses fauna and flora with eco-sensitive meaning. You’ll see tiny highways on part of a tiger tulip petal.
“The Checkerboard Painter,”
Traveling from the Lima area, Herb Vonderau will show three acrylic paintings at Mac Worthington’s through August. Vonderau infuses his work with a delicious reverence for art history. In Pearl Earring, the contemporary painter Vonderau has honored the Old Master Vermeer by painting a winsome feminine face and its celebrated earring. To achieve a specific emotional goal, Vonderau used a complex and rather experimental technique that included outdoor photography. In the end, Vonderau explained, the portrait was partly painted on the wood slats from a hog barn being torn down on his father’s farm. “I wanted to preserve it somehow. I did the photography in winter. What I’ve done is kind of complicated, but light is different in winter, and you’ll see that.” Vonderau’s paintings are larger than the other works described in this article. Pearl Earring is roughly 22 x 18 inches. In Rothenburg, Vonderau has depicted a German village, and although the painting suggests an Old Master’s, it’s mixed media, and according to the artist, like graffiti but a little more detailed. “Yes, I used a spray can and a marker as well as the paint.” In Halle, as in Halle Berry, Vonderau’s star seems to be posing for Rembrandt in 2005. Seen from the waist up she wears a deep purple dress, velvet, brocade, or silk, and she wafts a purple fan. She’s half coquettte, half burgher’s wife! A checkerboard pattern is seen through the window. Vonderau has traveled widely and has done some teaching. His art quest has taken him to studies at Fort Wayne Art Institute as well as other schools. He is sometimes known as “the checkerboard painter” because a checkerboard pattern almost always appears somewhere in his paintings. His work sounds substantial and like a don’t miss! I, for one, intend to race over and see the paintings.
Mac Worthington is located at 749 N. High St. Call 614-294-7790. Hours: Tuesday Through Thursday 2 - 7pm; Friday and Saturday 11am-7pm; Sundays Noon-5pm.
Gary Shaw's Even when drowining in a well, sister, hold on to your top shelf dream.
The Ohio Art League is presenting even more adventurous and solid shows than in the past, if that's possible. The OAL galaxy has become a spiral galaxy!
In June, OAL members presented “Out of the Box” at High Road Gallery in Worthington while “Babes in Toyland, an exhibition of fractured fairy tales and misfit toys,” ran at OAL's home gallery 954 N. High Street.
On July 2, 2005 Gary Shaw's one-man show “Selling Nightmares – Buying Dreams,” opens, as curated by John Antjas, at the High Street gallery in the Short North.
On July 28, the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery will open an exhibition showcasing the art of Ohio Art League members. Made In Ohio/Diverse Sources will be curated by Annegreth Nill, and includes work of OAL artists born between 1930 and 1982, reflecting the diversity of the 96-year-old organization.
Out of the Box
OAL’s “Out of the Box” ran at High Road Gallery in Worthington through June. The title alludes to each member’s effort to do something other than his/her usual work.
For example, Sandra Aska is known for elegant, simple, poetic oil-and-acrylic paintings of women. Yet, Aska exhibited two mind-boggling constructions. Her three bone-and-bead Fetishes grimaced from the wall. Virgin, a cool white mixed media construction of wood, metal, glass and an egg, made everybody curious. But it’s gorgeous!
Exhibition goers were pleased by Jerry Tollifson’s tall white obelisks marked by feminine curves. Jenny Scranton’s Red Bag and her Large Green Bag, oil on canvas one-image paintings of clutch purses, definitely out-of-the-box studies. Scranton’s use of a simple subject, visible strokes and juxtapositioning of color – daring and creative.
He’s increasingly famous. Tom Baillieul’s folksy Flamingos painted on a blue framed mirror were definitely out of the box, for him. This guy can paint anything – a wildlife image for postage stamps or the beautiful abstract Strata.
Gretchen Van Winkle’s Bailey and the Bathroom is an excellent watercolor in which Bailey the dog is poised over a shadowy driveway or river. Donn Vickers’ small black-and-white photo, a snow scene, drew comments on a sunny June day. Bias Farm, W.Va., a simple farm building filtered through snow, struck a chord with many visitors.
Janice Nelson danced out of everybody’s box, dominating the show with two large rectangular acrylic paintings. Her simplicity is fearless and bold. In each painting a lone humanoid figure consists of painted shards, shiny smooth brush strokes: red, yellow, green, purple, blue.
In the first painting, Fragmentation, an androgynous man runs toward the painting’s edge. An androgynous woman is poised to receive from “above” in the second painting, Healed by the Light.
Each lithe stained-glass figure dances against segments, or small fields, of shiny color. The images remain fixed in memory. Whether the intent is religious or not is immaterial. The impression is one of stained glass and awe. Light, in all of its definitions.
There were around 50 art works in “Out of the Box.” (High Road Gallery, 12 E. Stafford Avenue in Worthington is a spacious rehabbed historical house, consists of five large rooms.)
Carol Hershey, High Road director, is correct: “OAL members, and artists in other recognized art organizations, can curate themselves; they will definitely choose their own best works. I announce the topic; I estimate how many pieces we can exhibit, and highly skilled artists send me their best, out of the box. It works!”
It certainly does. Hershey praised OAL member, Tom Hubbard, an O.S.U. professor emeritus, and Ellen Grevey of the OAL board, for their efforts in organizing the show.
Nightmares and Dreams in July
“Selling Nightmares, Buying Dreams” will be OAL’s one-man show in July 2005, with an opening on Hop Night. John Atjas, curator, has described Gary Shaw as “shy, dyslexic, humble, intense. . . . with his inks, watercolors, and paper, he comes to grips with a crazy world of ghosts and freaks, regret and irony in a kind of dark comedy.”
Shaw describes his own watercolor and ink drawings as “cartoon-like and whimsical.”
“My colors are always subdued, and the average size of my work is 8 x 10 to 11 x 14 inches. I say watercolors; actually I water down acrylics a lot, and I have to paint fast over the ink drawings. I often add almond brown to my colors because I like things to look old.”
Shaw is a CCAD graduate. His “day job” is at a music store, and he once played bass in a band. He confesses that he “gets together with art friends,” but he’s “not always into the art scene, but in my own world. Sometimes I just wander through a bookstore and pick things up and read.” In June, he was reading a biography of Carson McCullers as well as Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.
Shaw is unassuming and sincere. He reminds one, ever so slightly, of a balladeer or poet from the Middle Ages. He admires the Swiss German artist Paul Klee from the ‘30s and ‘40s, because of that artist’s simplicity and originality. “He was playful. He didn’t take himself too seriously, and he was a wonderful artist.”
This is Shaw’s first one-man show, although his work exhibited at Whole World Restaurant during June. His medium-sized paintings are unique, expertly painted. But, like their creator, they’re understated and deserve a close look. They exude a very rare quality – charm. We trust they can surmount the blazing white walls at OAL. There will be approximately 15 paintings in Shaw’s “Buying Dreams” show. They have narrative titles, and often contain inverted words.
A rusty scene in Ghana has become thursdaytwobeerpunkgirlsafari. In it a retro vehicle resembles a Humvee, and a helmet-and-goggles guy is out for a good time. Another painting is Lost in a graveyard of our hopes and dreams may your feet never touch the ground. It stars one of Shaw’s fetching “line drawing” girls.
Even when drowning in a well, sister, hold on to your top shelf dream is the title of a third painting. In it a stick figure girl, smiling, eyes closed, clutches a star against her chest while she drifts beneath brown-red waters. Sister’s head is round, a cooky cutter or a full moon. Her smile is blissful. A Wizard of Oz-type robot gazes down upon the scene. Behold a delicious line drawing, in which stars, curlicues, asterisks and sharptoothed fish bloom copiously. “As long as she clutches a star she’ll be okay,” Shaw said.
The Ohio ArtLeague is at 954 N. High Street. The gallery is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 12 - 5 p.m. For more information call 614-299-8225 or visit www.oal.org.
Special Moment, Special Show
Lino Tagliapietra, born in Murano, Italy, in 1934, is likely the greatest living glass artist and master blower of our century. He is the last working practitioner who, at age twelve, was apprenticed to a master. His elegant, powerful glass sculptures will show at Hawk Galleries, 153 E Main St. through July 31. The show is titled “From Venice to Columbus, Da Venezia a Colombus,” and it’s a don’t miss, the chance of a lifetime. Abstracted glass “Dinosaurs” form a series, as do sea crafts in the “Endeavor” series, and “Bilbao,” sculptures inspired by Spain.
For our troubled times: Angel Tear (there’s more than one) is at least 4-feet tall. Its long stem stands straight up, heavenward, from it’s lute-shaped globe. Inside the globe, ribands – bright ,slender, variegated, sky-blue, green, scarlet, rose, webbed, cellular.
Once molten glass streams, these ribands run the curved gamut of a tear. They flow, touching each other but not overlapping, inside glass as clear as a raindrop, almost invisible.
Lino’s unassuming yet debonair presence graced the opening on June 11. It was an honor to see him quietly discussing glass art with awed students and visitors, and making an effort to shake each hand.
A show by four women, each a practiced and highly professional artist, will sizzle at Gallery V, 694 N. High St., during June 2005. The title, “On the Other Hand,” refers to the highly divergent energies of highly divergent artists: Marge Bender, Egle Gatins, the late Jeanne Fryer Kohles, and Barbara Vogel. The curatorial talents of Lynne Muskoff have produced a sophisticated and harmonious blend. One thing this exhibit is not is boring.
Barbara Vogel: “In my family I see all families.”
For her contribution to “On the Other Hand,” Barbara Vogel has worked from recovered photographs dating back to the ‘30s and ‘40s. In Gumdrops, one of the artist’s popular “boxes,” Vogel’s mother, her aunt, her then-youthful father, her own sixth-grade class all appear in miniature. Old photos have been transferred to plain (clear) and red-and-blue stained glass and placed in an old wood Gumdrops candy box, one-foot square and backlit. The diminuitive faces of the sixth-graders smile self-consciously.
Vogel’s father is young, dressed to kill in the forties. We see Vogel’s mom and aunt who at one time attended a one-room school in Tippecanoe, Ohio. The two schoolgirls appear in a cloudy class photo with two shadowy aunts behind them. The dresses and the hair styles place us in time.
Vogel’s emphasis on black and white, her unobtrusive painterly embellishments, assure a time warp. Images appear behind images. The oak Bible box once contained the elements for Mass. Now, entitled Communion, it holds a found photo, a blurry French family has been double-exposed with a dead robin. The site is Albi, France, where Vogel found the photo in a flea market. “ Nostalgia,” Vogel whispers, “I wonder what has become of them?”
Her attention shifted to her wall photo of the same French grouping, in the mid-thirties, pre WWII. It’s a sedate middle-aged group. Below the knee “Sunday” dresses are worn by the four women, and dark suits and ties by the two men. The augmented and shadowy group have posed one afternoon when sun hit the cottage walls. All seems amiable, peaceful. But Vogel knows that many citizens of Albi were victims of a mass execution. Thus she repeats, “I wonder what happened to them?”
“Photographs look back,” she said. “I obtain a negative. I use emulsifier, I put the negative in an enlarger and print it on the wood or another hard surface, glass or porcelain. I pour over old negatives the way somebody else would pour sugar into a bowl.”
Egle Gatins: “I look at surfaces.”
Egle Gatins grew up speaking French in the southern part of the United States before she became a Buckeye. She sometimes refers to herself as a hodgepodge. She claims her mother is a wonderful seamstress. Perhaps that’s the genetic source of Gatin’s intricate, labor-intensive collages that pack such power.
“I like to make collage paintings on a small scale,” she said. “I paint; I combine paper materials. I tend to work small, precisely, intensely, for short periods of time because it’s exacting work.”
Gatins produces an exciting, disciplined, “hodgepodge” or mixed media mix. Her traditional, i.e., one-dimensional on paper or canvas, collages are breathtaking. They resemble tight-woven abstractions in which paper scraps, repaints, snapped twigs, cloth scraps, metal snippets, washes and acrylics, glass fragments all dance together in a glittering ballet. A certain randomness is tamed by Gatin’s expert touch. Each varied piece “works” – color against color.
Gatin’s Gallery V exhibit will include her skateboard paintings: new, brighter and bolder collage pieces. She noticed that when her sons’ skateboards were worn smooth, they developed an interesting surface, so she began to paint and collage them. They hang vertically.
Cross is an abstract, like the rest of her work. She admits, “The skateboard Cross is not an actual cross but it may make you think of one.”
Cross gleams with varnished bright red-and-white acrylic squares and circles and white-and-black lines. Each shape or segment is clean, no blurry or shaky edges here. Cross is wound with red raffia. It has a beige center section, and an attached object like a twig. Through talismanic magic, Cross has attracted applied and transformed objects: A piece of flat metal, a shred of tablecloth.
Here is wonderful straight-limbed, bound-together Cross, and ideas and cultures can fly across it. Gatins agreed. “It’s not actually Native American but it could inspire that mood.”
Winged Dream is equally attractive. The skateboard top is gumball red. The bottom levitates in purple. Strange dark colors glisten toward the filmed bottom; this is where actual South American butterfly wings form segments of a winged dream.
Barbara Vogel and Egle Gatins each mentioned Dutch neo-plasticist painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) and his use of glass, shape, and color, as a reference point in their differing works.
Marjorie Bender: “ I’ve reached the age when I create what I want to create and go on.”
Marjorie Bender is experienced in intaglio printmaking and collage, as well as in clay sculpture and ceramics. For the “On the Other Hand” show, she has created a wacky sculpture which is not likely to please the Rush Limbaugh crowd.
Adept at original and cartoon-like constructions, unafraid of the quirky or the grotesque, Bender has produced (and directed) ACT I of the First Bush Administration, A Tragedy in Two Acts.
The scene takes place in a wood theatre a couple feet wide. The small clay actors are busts, as in Shakespeare gone bust. A list of players tells the tale: Colin Powell plays the indecisive Hamlet. Carl Rove appears as Iago, the conniving villain of Othello. Laura Bush and Condoleeza Rice play Ladies in Waiting who are actually disguised-and-painted wood sock darner forms.
George W. Bush has morphed into King John, the usurper who murdered the little princes in the tower! The back of the small theater is the White house, and the front is bedecked with painted curtains.
The Springs of Our Content, a second mini theatre, presents favorite U.S. leaders. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Crazy Horse and other positive influences can move up and down on springs when we pull handles. Bender has control over her media. Her sculptures are unashamedly awkward and outré! Her ethos falls somewhere between cartoonish and primitive, yet what she does is deliberate and highly original.
Bender shows her printmaking skill through recent searing realistic intaglio prints dedicated to her now-deceased mother. In one delicate print, the un-prettified bespectacled mother, emaciated, barely clothed in a hospital gown, smiles gamely and waves a high sign to her daughter.
Jeanne Fryer Kohles
At least three works of late Jeanne Fryer Kohles will show in the “On the Other Hand” exhibit.
Fryer Kohles served with sophistication and unalloyed integrity as a Columbus Dispatch art critic for ten years. She died after a long battle with cancer in autumn of 2004.
Fryer Kohles was/is one of a minority of true contemporary abstract expressionists. Her use of color is moody and specific; her wobbly shapes, unique and quirky. The apparent randomness in her placement of shapes, is decieving. Her slow dance of strange colors and shapes concludes with air-tight composition.
Last Yellow is an oil on canvas painted in 2005. The pale yet vibrant field grounding this abstract is pure Jeanne; it’s her peculiar yellow: lemony pale, infiltrated by gray, by green, and with suggestions of white. Two large unidentifiable objects float side by side in the center. The one to the left suggests a brown shallop of some kind and contains an indefinite shape that is also an offbeat brown. Last Yellow can beautify many spaces: museums, libraries, upscale living rooms. It is a pleasing, not saccharine abstract work that intrigues the viewer and evokes mystery and interpretation.
Shell is a large oil on canvas in which deep sea purples and greens dance through strange uneven shell-like shapes, in coral and frond shapes. These are reflections of the natural world. To be specific, the sea: round-edged shapes hold coils and other curved markings.
Fryer Kohles almost always painted with a brush, not the palette knife. In this work paint has been brushed on rather heavily and the surface is textural. A brown seaweed shape floats on the right, and various blurry objects have taken on a life of their own.
Before her death, the ever-engaged artist painted big wonderful outdoor acrylic panels. At least two of them sold. At least one, an abstract – gorgeous with greens, sunlight, and sky blue – remains visible on the lawn of her home studio. Tex Kohles, her engineer husband said, “Yes it must suggest the sky because the birds fly into it.”
The artist was a private and meticulous woman. It is possible – however much she denied it – that the colorfields against which her strange objects and shapes float, represent a stormy emotional world. She once told me “I’ve had many love affairs – with color.” Her work is estimable and her legacy should be a rich one.
Each of the four artists in “On the Other Hand” possess solid educational and professional resumes. Their exhibition lists are impressive and far-reaching. The described works were seen at the artist’s studios, and at this writing had been selected for the exhibit.
Gallery V is at 694 North High St., hours Tues.-Sat. 11-5. (614) 228-8955.
Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers. – Marc Chagall
It was that daffodil and redbud time of year. I wanted to see spring flowers, and I found some at Studios on High. There, Helen H. Neumann, watercolorist, had painted a garden of delights. There, Fran Mangino had painted large dramatic lilies, and Angela Gelasi had captured the special light of Ohio wetlands.
Poppy Roots by Helen Neumann
Helen Huhn Neumann is a more-than-competent watercolorist. She can use lines, overwashes and, simultaneously incorporate opaque or blended colors. Neumann's palette is “pastelly.” Delicious, not trite. She would make a fine illustrator or card designer, yet, her finely honed paintings stand on their own, gleam with originality and a quiet one-two punch. She has a sense of humor too!
Rabbit’s Five presents a slice of meadow or field depicted through translucent layers of watercolor and fine detail. It's a tall painting, running from a wispy robin’s egg blue sky above spindly lavendar-hued paintbrush flowers, downward to various blossoms, and farther down to a morass of delicate weeds and plants more than midway. Look closely: three wild white rabbits materialize. Below them, weeds tangle. Round stones and spindly roots reach through wet earth. Two brown rabbits huddle together.
Neumann has given us x-ray vision: five wild baby rabbits in hiding. She has filled this work with pale sunlight. Her skill permits us to see a gentle spring and realistic yet magical bunnies – gray, brown, white, vulnerable. I think I saw spotted dragonflies, or perhaps these had flown over to Spring Garden.
Spring Garden is a dreamy blend of greenery that includes translucent, clearly defined butterflies, daffodils, larkspur, and poppies?
“It's okay to say poppies,” Neumann said, “Sometimes I create them (flowers) out of my head.”
The artist knows how to run flower hues against one another. The blue flowers almost touch the dull blue sky, and below that we see flowers in dusty pinks, wines, roses and dull golds. Neumann knows how to filter lemon sun into her paintings – usually segments. In a sense, abstractions, not landscapes.
A tribute to Vincent Van Cat? In this small painting, Kitty Spring, Neumann seems to have broken into a feline-floral abstraction that laps up sunshine and needs no description except that the cat, or cats, seem to be very happy.
Tubular Cats, a smallish painting, contains no blossoms, but in it a cat quintettesome in tank tops and shorts, some in bikinis, are floating blissfully on innertubes among playful fish, seagulls, and sailboats.
Hawaii-born watercolorist Helen H. Neumann resides in idyllic-sounding Apple Valley Lake, Ohio. Her education includes studies at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in printmaking; color theory at Bishop Museum in Hawaii; painting studies in Skagi Valley College, Washington. Her father, Andy J. Huhn was an oil painter and sculptor who died in 2002. She says: “I live on a lake with my husband and three cats and a golden retriever. Recently I've seen a bald eagle or two, and that's a joy. I'm grateful for much, and I love what I paint. My goal as an artist is to paint on the lighter side.”
Angela Gelasi is a first-class painter, often working in pastels. Her Ohio Wet Lands in Bloom is an excellent oil painting, a strong example of contemporary impressionism, maybe even a no-nonsense homage to Monet's lilies and ponds. The familiar lake or wetland is framed, presumably, by elms, oaks, and maples on one side (after all, this is Ohio) and three pines on the other. After all, this is impressionism. The background is not only a mystery, but a mastery – of sunset, upcoming storm, or mist. Whatever the atmosphere, the painting has been fearlessly and skillfully painted. This “half light” scene is alive with hundreds of pink-tinged water lilies. Their thick green pads, clinging, massed, seem to diminish as they flow backward and grow larger, like an invincible herd, as they draw nearer the bottom.
Fran Mangino is unbeatable. Her painting The Nose Knows is included in the book Splash 8, edited by Rachel Rubin Wolf, available online from amazon.com. Mangino and her work have also been featured in The Artists Magazine and Painting 1-2-3. Although she's an intrepid plein air painter, she's also an expert at photo transference and projection. Her large watercolors are opaque, dramatic, beautiful. They nearly jump off the paper. Oriental Lily is around 30 x 24 inches. Set against aqua and magenta washes this white Lily, red-orange marked, explodes with stamens, languishes among stippled white petals. Double Tulip is equally daring. The enlarged flowers nearly fill their large “canvasses.” On Standing at the Edge, the perspective pulls us into a pond where we tilt into purple, green and aqua swirls. Mangino's “Midlife Series,” depicting mid-years women out to picnic, listening to music and enjoying life, are one of the most popular series around.
Susan Bache’s single rose-toned Lotus remains a high mark for all flower paintings. (Her other flowers were not blooming in April.) Clay Sneller had already leaped over the garden wall to land in summer sun. His big sun-washed paintings of apartments, churches, and fruit in Chilean markets are wonderful. Denise Romecki’s woman-spirited sculpture in stoneware, Dream of Spring, is exactly what the May goddess ordered. Judy Hoberg’s outdoor Critters sell like hotcakes during garden season.
Studios on High at 656 N. High is open from 12-6 daily, Sunday 1-6. Call 614- 461-6487. In May, the spring blossoms described here will be available on the walls, on line and by request.
Also at Studios on High
Denise Romecki always uses a delicate hand and produces masterful works of art. Her ceramic pieces will be on view in May. Colorful glass fusion with metal is always unique by Jeff Hersey. He is truly inspired with his new works on display.
Visit their Web site at www.studiosonhigh.com
New Horizons at Waldos
Tata Talks, acrylic by Ben Devoe
Waldo’s, at 755 N. High St., is always a marvelous beauty salon. But in March, Waldo’s began expanding its horizons to include a youthful and gifted arts community. UrbanThread, a clothing and jewelry collective, offers gorgeous wearables, and the Visual Revolution, a community arts organization, is showing fine art through April, and perhaps beyond.
The March Gallery Hop was an exciting whirl: clothes, paintings, jewelry, and music – the Taylor Brown Trio blew everyone away. Waldo’s owner-manager Patti Young was there lookin’ great as usual. UrbanThread uses the front space at Waldo’s. And fashion-savvy Natasha Ross of UrbanThread was an informed and enthusiastic guide.
The one-of-a-kind handbags are a marvel. One jacquard bag had tiny silver skulls and crossbones on the handles and a denim leopard lining. Each bag, clutch or handled, is fetching and original.
The garments are a wonder of insets, appliqué, and painted surfaces. One, a two-layer satin shell in shimmering wine, is a tour de force of needlework. Yet these items are not gaudy; one would feel comfortable wearing them anywhere. Ben Devoe paints the jackets he wears to openings – and you can wear one too.
In the window are blossomy, floppy-brimmed hats in wire net as light as thistledown. They reminded me of the 1920s and ‘30s. They’re sequined and charming - so “oh-you-kid!” This is the perfect gift for a lovely someone with panache, someone who knows what real style is. Maureen Sagan Cortes, Anne Holman, and Shannon Mingus (of SugarKitty Corsets) design for UrbanThread.
Although these fashionable clothes are unique, they’re not overpriced. The silver jewelry is also one-of-a-kind and tends toward the classic and simple, yet is very much now.
Visual Revolution artist Jae Andres’ series of black-and-white photographs, “Youth and Lust,” is lovely. The intimacy of the couples’ intertwining is sensual, quiet, explicit.
“Jae has been able to find a lot of young couples who love each other very much and they are eager to pose,” Ross says.
Andres’ abstract “splatters” are large and popular. (One or two were sighted recently at Mahan Gallery).His abstracts are usually a single color, bright blue or red, and are actually faceless busts. Andres also made the gem-like buttons that “sell like hotcakes” at Waldo. Marilyn, Andy – and, of course, Jimmy – and many more are here.
George Kraemer takes the art cake! A first-rate oil painter, he has at least four paintings in the upstairs gallery. Kraemer’s work contains a poignant dance of recent Americana from the ‘50s. Kraemer often paints from photo memorabilia; his work is imbued with memory.
A group of relatives or friends pose in what seems to be a campground. The beloved Aunt or Mother wears a wide, familiar pink house dress. In another photo-painting, Kraemer at age seven or eight, wearing bright red swim trunks, grins at us. The colors are soft but striking, but those swim trunks are red. In a large knock-’em-dead painting, Pablo Picasso is tough, lean, bald, clean-shaven. There’s a beach, a big yellow umbrella, and Francoise Ann Campara.
Ben Devoe is one of the three visual artists presenting at Waldo’s through April. His business card says he’s promotions director and vice president of the Visual Re Art Collective, a movement of artists in several cities working to get art into public spaces such as cafés, clubs, and galleries.
Devoe’s large to medium acrylic paintings tend to suggest the primitive and mythical, yet they’re controlled, constructed with care. The artist aptly describes his work as “abstract expressionism combined with pop.” To call a Devoe “textural” doesn’t do it justice. Lines on canvas fabric are obvious; paint has been applied thickly but smoothly, so that the paintings physically stand out in their frames and canvasses.
His abstracts at Waldo’s tend toward curved lines and shapes inside more curved lines and shapes. The palette is tawny – full of dull oranges, whites, and thick black lines, with a deep blue once in a while, as if Devoe dreams of jungles full of creatures and shadows. Tata Talks, one of the tawny acrylics, seems to include a bird’s head toward the top, and a strategically placed red splat in the lower right corner. The title comes from a conversation Natasha Ross had with Devoe while he painted.
Devoe says he’s “mainly self taught as an artist.” He was encouraged and mentored by Shawn Savage, now in Las Vegas, and Yoshi Yoshinari of Yoshinari’s North Oak Gallery in Clintonville.
With UrbanThread dominating upstairs where a few paintings hang, the downstairs basement gallery is a treat for jaded eyes. The tan walls have been expertly stippled with brown and the ceiling strung with mini lights and netting, providing a great background for the paintings and passionate photographs.
For more information, see www.urbanthread.org. and www.thevisualrevolution.org.
I can’t wait until April. Let’s go to the Hop!
I’m telling you twice: At the Riffe Center downtown until April 17, the exhibit “Design for the American Stage” covers the late 1800s to the 21st century and contains fabulous, intricate original paintings and designs. U.S. history and international culture resonate within. You’ll see the original set design for The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, and Our Town. Take your time, your memories, a friend. And light a candle for Arthur Miller.
From the sublime to the feline and canine: the gourmet dog cookies at Posh Pets are objects of art - or arrf. Yogurt and carob-frosted, charmingly formed: tiaras, shoes, ice cream cones, cinnamon buns. And the fussy pink plastic baby buggy for your cat? Absolutely Mary Cassatt!
Happy The Clown, something new by Craig Carlisle. His annual exhibit at Sharon Weiss Gallery, 20 East Lincoln Street, will run April 1 through April 30. Opening reception is on Friday, April 1 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Call Sharon at 614-291-5683 for more details.
"Dont Misses" at the Ohio Craft MuseumBeing unschooled and thus unmolded, folk artists often break the rules of the art world, which is what gives their work such freedom and universal appeal.
– Gwen Heffner, curator of “Below the River: A Legacy of Kentucky Folk Art.”
Carl Makenzie, "Avon Ladies", a sample of Kentucky Folk Art
“Below the River: A Legacy of Kentucky Folk Art,” showing at the Ohio Craft Museum through March 20, is a big, colorful, exciting exhibit. Each piece in the show has been crafted with contemporary sophistication. Colors are bright, surfaces are smooth, design-composition is solid. Each piece vibrates with the rich “country” tradition of church, farming, and family. This folk art rocks!
Visitors are greeted by the hee-haw slicked-up figures of Harry Jennings’ Big Band. These guys – wood carvings – manage to be Now and Yesterday at once. Corn-high tall, they play a guitar, a banjo, and a fiddle, and their downhome togs are as bright and slick as their big hats.
Wes Jones’ light bulb ornaments are fantastic. Although actually only light bulbs, they’re as detailed and color-savvy as Faberge eggs. If you haven’t seen a well-crafted light bulb ornament, you are definitely culturally deprived. (Jones is selling light bulb ornaments and Sponge Bob ornaments in wood, paint, foam, light bulbs at $21 a pop, and they’re a steal.)
Lonnie and Twyla Money have wood-carved and painted Possum With Babies, one of my favorites. Ma Possum is as long as a small torpedo; she’s darker than the regular possum and kind of scratch-lined. Two determined babies cling while she rambles. The Moneys also carved and painted Noah’s Ark Mirror. You can’t have a folk art show without at least one Noah’s Ark!
The gourd art is luscious. These gourds are not decorated; they’ve been painted and shaped until they became objets of art. Marilyn Peavler’s Gourd Vegetables bloom like a flower garden. Her vegetables are realistic but the colors are a Marc Chagall dream, a ballet. Peavler’s magical radishes, squash, eggplant and tomatoes form a bouquet of disguised gourds.
From Toller Hollow, Kentucky, Charley Kinney has sent Quail Huntin’. It’s a tempera and crayon on paper. The quail are droppin’ like yellow duckies in this scratchy but determined painting. We can see the crayon marks. The dogs resemble small dinosaurs. Kinney has sent us Fishin, and Radler (Rattler). William Hawkins’ ghost, metaphorically, is smilin’ down, and the red dogs are running in Toller Hollow.
Edna Simpson’s Country Homeplace, acrylic on canvas, with a wandering stream, corn shocks, autumn leaves, says it all: The rolling green hills of home.
“Below the River” includes wool animals, willow bark buckets, art canes, art dolls, art quilts, art jugs, art plates, bowls and baskets, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. The exhibit is an “even” one; high quality is equally distributed. Many first-class artists and objects have not been mentioned here.
The best masks retain much of the energy that they’re designed to convey, long after a performance.
– Eason Eige, gallery owner, mask collector.
Dances and parades in which celebrants are masked, remain a living, if not common, tradition in central and southern Mexico. “Traditional Mexican Masks,” an exhibit consisting of 87 works from Eason Eige’s collection in Albuquerque, will be showing at the Ohio Craft Museum through March 20. Eige, who has been collecting for over forty years, has deliberately limited his provenance to masks intended specifically for dances, ceremonies, and festivals. He has not included masks intended for decorative or commercial purposes. Many of the masks were made by the celebrants themselves. Thus, many masks possess a homemade or amateur aspect that is definitely folk, i.e., authentic and intriguing.Five Stars for the marvelous double photo show by Abdi Robe and Kojo Kamau at Kiaca Gallery, 941 N. High St. “Two Points of View” closes April 22. Definitely a don’t miss! Kojo’s The Great Ruins at Zimbabwe is repeated as an enlarged wall image at Franklin Park’s “Chapungu: Stories in Stone” contemporary sculpture exhibition.
The makers used what they had. Carved from wood, sewn from leather, a few of them papier mache, the Mexican Masks have been painted, burned, and ornamented – sometimes with fake flowers and beads, horsehair, feather, bits of leather, tin, or glass.
Grotesque and whimsical, the majority of these old masks are brown, unvarnished, or have been painted with non shiny paint. Their age reaches back to the early 1900s. Boltasar; Mask del Pueblita, a frightening figure, is one of the brighter masks. His red and white striped horns curve like a mountain goat’s. His long bulky face is red and white striped and polka dotted. He’s about two feet tall, from horn to horn, and his nose sticks out. See for yourself!
Toro and Torito (Bull), with and without garlands, are well represented. Their wearers once bucked and butted fake matadors who brandished wooden swords. El Diablo, a devil, is often found in groups lead by Lucifer, whose face is somewhat human. His followers, minor devils, wear masks that combine animal and human features. They laugh through implanted makeshift teeth. ElDiablo may resemble a tiger, a bull, or a goat. He is familiar – a familiar: In a Mexican village he may be our neighbor, the barber, the shoeshine man, or a favorite aunt.
Peering down corridors of Mexican history, we see the Dance of the Moors and Christians. We can recognize the Slave or the Spanish Padre. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed European’s face has been painted white and pink. He has a black beard! The helmeted Conquistador, also, is familiar, although his original form may be passe. He marches, sways and bends with Saints and Apostles. Judios/Judas is present. We recognize his crude and unsavory visage. These masked personages are apt to materialize during Holy Week, Corpus Christi, Carnival, Day of the Dead. It is through such commemorations that the future is threaded to a traditional and spiritual past.
The double exhibit, "Mexican Masks," and "Below the River, A Legacy of Kentucky Folk Art," is a don’t miss – not only for art enthusiasts, but for teenagers, oldsters, families with children. But hurry, the show will close March 20.
The Ohio Craft Museum is located at 1665 West Fifth Avenue; and, as Director Betty Talbott reminds us, “we’re not far from the the Short North!” Admission and parking are free. Their hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. - 5p.m.; Sunday 1 - 4 p.m.; and closed on Saturday. Call 614-486-4402.
Congratulations to Daina Higgins at the Rebecca Ibel Gallery at Miranova in January. (One of our own in New York, and she sells!!)
Five Stars to Jacquie Mahan for bringing exciting, marvelous paintings by Rollin Beamish to her gallery last month.
At the Riffe Gallery downtown, Marlene Dietrich welcomes us to a zillion star exhibit, “Design For The American Stage” as curated by O.S.U.’s Nena Couch.
Kudos to Robert Berry for talent and chutzpah; he painted big fast acrylics outside Victorian Gate during the February Hop.
Thoughtfulness reigns at ROY G BIV
Morris Jackson's Mutation
Elizabeth Gerdeman’s watercolor plaster prints, Morris Jackson’s drawings, and Matthew Price’s ceramics will show from Feb. 5 through Feb. 26 at ROY G BIV Gallery.
Jackson is a recognized self-taught artist; Gerdeman has a recent degree from Columbus College of Art and Design. Each artist was able to give me an at-home preview of the work.
Matt Price, an Ohio State University grad now living and working in Maine, will show stoneware, clay, and aggregate pieces. His work was described by ROY G BIV staff as “engaging, professional, earth-based.”
Morris Jackson: “I work in my own way”
When he was in high school 25 years ago, Morris Jackson began to doodle, filling notebooks and their covers with his pen and pencil drawings. His homework began to disappear because the doodling was taking over his notebooks.
“I would have whole notebooks, ostensibly for taking notes during class, that were filled with doodles and hardly a word written in them,” he says.
Later, Jackson went through “a hard time” while employed as a catalog assistant at OSU's Michael E. Moritz Law Library and decided to take his drawings to university art professor Stephen Pentak. Pentak told Jackson that formal art training would be unnecessary.
“He was nice, encouraging,” Jackson recalls. “He said I had already developed a style and I should try to exhibit.”
Working as a law librarian, Jackson has little leisure time, but manages to squeeze his art into his schedule. His delicate and complex line drawings, done in Rapido-graph and using little color, emit whimsy and sometimes evoke curiosity. Jackson's work is rich with stipples, dots, lines, and patterns.
I loved Extreme Home, in which a Round Face Man stands dead center in the arch-like door of the Home. The Home, a quizzical masterpiece, consists of a hundred or so small bricks or square stones, each displaying a design – a bird, a hand, a creature, an object. The effect is that of hieroglyphs, yet the time is a Jacksonian Now. Surrounding the Home, leafless trees’ naked, groping branches seem to have fingertips. In Romance, two teetering lovers, string-like and tilted, reach toward each other across a chasm. This ironic drawing is lively with negative space.
Jackson’s art has been exhibited previously at ROY G BIV, and at Barth Gallery in Clintonville, the Ohio Art League, and other venues. In 2003 his work was selected to appear in the Midwestern edition of New American Paintings.
“I draw in my own way, my own strange figures that disconnect, barely hold together,” Jackson says. “I admire Phillip Guston, his kind of dark abstract style. He was savaged, controversial, when he switched to cartoon-like influences. And I admire Plastic Man on New Yorker covers.”
Elizabeth Gerdeman: “Go out and create a world”
Elizabeth Gerdeman’s watercolor plaster prints are hard to categorize. They're not exactly 3-D, yet they possess depth and texture; they're not pure abstractions, but they've emerged from an abstract/conceptual aesthetic. Many of them stem from Gerdeman's fascination with natural geology.
“I go for walks, pick up soil samples, broken glass, other found objects,” she says. “I guess walking is a kind of hobby. Sometimes I take digital images or look at satellite images. What I see may or may not be incorporated into my work.”
Spherical Confines I contains three rows of three round, doorknob-size concavities. The background – really a cast backing – consists of smooth, gleaming white plaster, so white I thought it had been painted. Each concavity has been “marked” in watery, dark gray hues, each slightly different from the others. Spherical Confines II holds a single, tinted, circular concavity in the center.
Gerdeman speaks of her “Effaced Identity Series” which implies the mutability evident in Spherical Confines I and II.
“I tend to create in sequences or series,” she says. “Much of my work is a kind of topography, although the drift, or emphasis, may change.”
The artist’s process seems technically complex, and includes a plexiglass plate transference; Gerdeman is strongly influenced by her knowledge of the printmaking process.
Cross Section Strata, about 22 x 18 inches, is also a plaster rendering; it has been “built up in layers underneath and cut away so we can see what might be.” In the beautiful Cross Section Strata the viewer can see blue and gray swirls, impressions, drips, horizons, strata.
Gerdeman, who presented her senior thesis show at CCAD this past December, is applying to graduate school outside of Columbus but says she likes living here. She’s worked in the art therapy and art education fields and for two years was part of Columbus’ Children of the Future program, which provides children ages 5 to 12 with daily after-school arts activities and weekend programs featuring visiting artists.
Gerdeman was a young artist herself, drawing childlike but detailed portraits when she was three. She now works for the Greater Columbus Arts Council, one of Children of the Future’s sponsors, on a temporary basis. Her art has been exhibited at SOLOFT, Ash Studio, SkyLab, and the Ohio Art League.
January: Photography at ROY G BIV
Last month, Rocky McCorckle’s large bright digital photos beckoned from ROY’s window. McCorckle’s work has been featured at the Springfield Museum of Art, and he's one of three winners of last year’s collegiate Digital Intelligence Competition, sponsored by OSU’s art department and Texas Instruments. His realistic photos are terrific: complex, many-colored, detailed, they’re compositionally solid and imaginative too.
Scott Hammond's “Common Objects series, 2004” – single-image photos, backed on white – blew me away! Imagine a single large french fry. Bread is one round slice – all kinds of spiritual resonances there. Memo Pad is red, slick, familiar, and Spoon is right up there. Perhaps Hammond has discovered Corporate Zen.
Hammond and McCorckle will soon graduate with bachelor’s degrees from OSU. Both artists were curated into ROY's recent “Image Ohio.”
ROY G BIV is at 997 N. High St. Hours are Wednesday through Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.
Look for Mary Garber’s squat, grinning POGS at pm gallery, 726 N. High St. In charcoal raku, they’re pigs/hippos/dogs. And don't miss Karen La Valley’s show, “Water Media and En Plein Air Paintings,” at the OSU Faculty Club through Feb 25. Call 292-2262 for information.
Congratulations to Duff Lindsay on his recent marriage to Lara Ament of the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County – and thanks to Duff for rescuing some of talented Vivian Pitman’s paintings from water damage after the ice storm.
Zen-like art at Lemongrass
Watercolors by Jim Bailey will show at Lemongrass Asian Bistro, 641 N. High St., through January 2005. This fine exhibit was curated by art educator, arts advocate, and long-time curator Ursula Lanning.
Bailey is a highly facile, unassuming painter. His large paintings - some of them abstracts, all of them abstracted - are lively with shapes, curves, and angles. Glowing with hues from a subdued palette, they're perfect for the long beige Lemongrass dining room, where zen-like harmony and a pleasing minimal decor abide. The 16 paintings, which average 18 by 24 inches, work beautifully as a wall series.
Valley View is the perfect antidote for a dismal January day. Lanning described the painting as “a colorfield.” Bailey has used translucent purple to divide his earth and sky, and that sky is a symphony of sunset colors, with trees as sketchy silhouettes in the twilight. Valley View is simple, lyrical, and good to look at.
At Your Service is a lively abstract, with rambunctious strokes suggesting a dining table - in an Asian bistro, perhaps! To the left we glimpse a patch of charcoal and gray stripes, probably fabric. Black arrows enliven the center and may represent anything - forks, unrolled sushi, perhaps caviar. There's an area that's likely a place mat, but, never mind - Bailey's magic exists in his slow dance of color and shapes.
Pine Trees, their pristine forms, a motif: Bailey likes to arrange them in threes or fours, and the affect is delightful. In Mountain Stream, Western View, and House on the Hill, the artist crystallizes, abstracts, his perception of a familiar natural world. He can shape moon upon moons, color upon color, like a series of lenses. In Reflections, Bailey has captured an iridescence that flows from white water lilies, or lily-like flowers, that dominate his pond. A pristine execution rescues a traditional subject from cloying sweetness, and pale blues, greens, off-whites, and vanilla sunlight impart a meditational glint to this painting.
In Beetlemania, Bailey gets vivid - yellow shimmies with black. “Beetle” is segmented into dots, loops, and curves, and every color-full segment is well placed. This Beetle, as the song says, “wants to hold your hand!”
Jim Bailey is a retired advertising manager for Anchor Hocking Glass Corporation in Lancaster; he was formerly associated with the New York company Rumrill Hoyt. He has completed many courses at Columbus College of Art and Design and has a bachelor of Science from Ohio State University.
Curator Ursula Lanning closed her much-lauded Lanning Gallery at 990 N. High St. two years ago and moved to Lancaster to catch her breath. When I asked what she liked about Lancaster, she replied, “I'm never there. I'm working, traveling, looking at art!” Lanning described recent and future trips to Paris, New York, and other capitals. By the time you've read this she'll probably have seen the new MOMIA (Museum of Modern Art in America) a few times!
Lanning explained that curating for an art space like Lemongrass is “different - everything has to work tranquilly; the paintings can't be too edgy or too distracting. A curator always considers the space, of course, but a non-art-space requires a certain touch.”
Nibbling exquisite wraps at Lemongrass, Lanning says she's increasingly in demand as an agent and an authenticator. She continues to curate and facilitate the exhibition of art. Lanning is responsible for a new show, “Word Masters” by Sid Chavetz, at Otterbein College's Fisher Gallery in March.
“The Patinas of Life,” Claire Hagan Bauza's paintings and Renate Burgyan's sculpture, was a beautiful show at the new JungHaus. At Sharon Weiss Gallery, Rick Akers' “En Plein Aire” oils earned five stars. His White Birches (Birch Grove) is one of the best paintings anywhere. Rebecca Ibel's show was in transit, but Radio Active, by a new guy, Douglas C. Bloom, blew me away!
Sensitivity is power. Thus, through January, Elaine Freeman's pastel landscapes - dreamlike, minimal, feminine - will glow at the Blue Door. Mac Worthington's open edition Flag is a joy - the stars are flowers! Aluminum, of course, and automotive brite. The gay flag is next. Mac's Cosmopolitan can take the chill off any winter. Divergent “realist” paintings by Kathryn and Allan Gough at Gallery V, unsurpassed.
Happy New Year, everybody!
Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico
“The days one works are the best days. On other days you get the garden planted, the roof fixed, take the dog to the vet, enjoy time with a friend…But you are hurrying through these things so you can get at the paintings again…The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for all the other things that make one's life. When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore. Unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I'm gone.”
– Georgia O'Keeffe
The paintings in “Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place” are marvelous and extraordinary yet at first glance appear deceptively simple and similar, and the viewer will need to take time with the exhibit.
The show, which runs through January 16 at the Columbus Museum of Art, 480 East Broad St., consists of 41 paintings, many of them accompanied by framed photographs taken between 2000 and 2004. The photos allow us to see which section of the New Mexico landscape the artist chose to paint on a particular day, and also reveal how little the arid landscape has changed since she painted it.
O'Keeffe's own words, many of them expressions of love for her surroundings, have been gleaned from letters and journals and posted near the paintings. Many of the paintings are from the Georgia O'Keefe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico; others are from private collections. The artist was first noted for her stunning charcoal drawings and sketches, and examples of them are also on exhibit.
Portrait of the artist as an artist
O'Keeffe rarely painted outdoors - she painted in her studio, her house, or the classroom. Outdoors she sketched her chosen venue, often with detail, and sometimes she took notes.
Although she had married and separated from the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, she was adamant about never painting from photographs. Born in 1887, O'Keeffe was a sturdy, compact woman who had grown up the second of seven children in a large family from Wisconsin. The O'Keeffe's were not rich; Georgia always knew she would have to work hard. At the age of 12 she declared “I'm going to be an artist.” She studied at the Chicago Art Institute, the Art Students League in New York, and the University of Virginia. She taught in many places, including elementary schools and West Texas State College.
In sun-baked country, she sometimes crouched for hours under her own car so that the sun did not blind her while she sketched. Late in life when she started to fly to exhibits and vacation spots, O'Keeffe exclaimed that she “enjoyed seeing how things look from up here when I look down” and confessed that flying was often “more exciting than the destination.” The artist lived to be 99, dying in 1986. When her eyesight failed toward the end of her life, her companion, sculptor Juan Hamilton, suggested that she would make a good potter, so she did that, beautifully.
Georgia O'Keeffe has been called an American realist, an abstract realist, a minimalist, a colorist, and “modern.” Her art meets the criteria for all of these definitions, yet she remained true to her own no-nonsense vision at all times. Although she was influenced by various teachers and by Notan, a Japanese system of lights and darks, she was never dominated by fads or trends.
And she had her own opinions about realism: “Nothing is less real than realism,” she once said. “It is only by selection, elimination, emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”
O'Keeffe early on learned to create masterful charcoal and graphite drawings. She took the task of painting and drawing seriously; she practiced.
She was unafraid to use pale rose and milky green in her desert landscapes. Indoors the artist could remember precisely the colors she'd seen outdoors. O'Keeffe possessed color memory the way some musicians have perfect pitch. She said she could recall with accuracy the colors in her own baby quilt!
Purple Hills Ghost Ranch # 21 and #19
This somber oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches, was painted near Abiquiu in 1934. A stretch of purpley dark browns rolls across this narrow painting, leaving less than a hand's breadth of pale sky. The terrain looks rich, if austere. The ridge becomes less brown as the terrain spreads downward. Toward the bottom O'Keeffe has painted ethereal green shadows, or grasses. As a colorist she was adamant about choosing certain hues. In Purple Hills the green shadows consist of an unusual tone one might refer to as “battleship green.”
O'Keefe did not actually paint the sun, yet the sun's deflected light was always a major player behind the scenes in her New Mexico landscapes.
What draws the eye into this quiet painting? The contours, the wrinkles and crevices. The hills slumber and writhe in this quiet painting, yet the surface of the canvas is smooth. How did she do it?
Bunny Koff, abstract painter and museum docent, was correct in describing O'Keeffe's paintings as “textural,” even though paint layers and wide strokes were not used. O'Keeffe often used a split, very small brush tip.
O'Keeffe often suggested texture through colors and lines. She also knew how to create depth through the use of opposite colors - dark against light, orange against blue, for example.
Having been married to noted photographer Alfred Stieglitz, she was fascinated by the close up, a form of abstraction, and this penchant is clear in such paintings as Black Mesa in which the flesh-toned hills, creviced like the hide of a living creature, run smack against dark mountains. Purple Hills Ghost Ranch #19 was also painted in 1934. A vivid blue-green strip forms the sky; a meld of browns and golds flow beneath it. Two-thirds up the cliff, several slits and cave openings are defined. It's likely they're human habitations thousands of years old. (“A Sense of Place” also includes at least one painting and one photograph of an actual Pueblo site.)
Michael Varon's 2002 photograph reveals a stonier grayer cliff; the photo brings the site closer. The bottom land quivers with the same pale blue shadows, the same dust and sediment O'Keeffe observed in 1934. We sigh with relief - no shopping malls or freeways have invaded this specific area, and vast sections of the New Mexico landscape remain unchanged.
Cedar Tree with Lavender Hills
Although the tips of her petrified branches have dropped off, this dead and leafless tree dances with knots, bark, and sun stripes. Her slim gray trunk includes sweeps, hollows, strategic openings, egg shapes, and a brushy knob. This is a tree with anatomy, a feminist or womanist tree, and such visual associations are not necessarily sexual but sensual, suggesting that the earth is a living thing.
But O'Keeffe herself didn't necessarily see her work as critics and other observers did. She once said of her painting style and subject matter, “Eroticism. It wouldn't occur to me. But Alfred [Stieglitz] talked that way, and people took it from him.”
Stretching from earth to sky, Cedar Tree dominates the canvas and in a sense frames the painting from the center. Three small green trees, or shrubs, form a compositional triangle, two against one. The sky is an opaque, dull blue. The desert has been spotted with patches of milky green shadows and grass as only O'Keeffe could paint them. We notice a stony expanse of cliff with wide slits in a row upon it. The hills and the desert are an unusual pale, washy orange. The ridge with its caves is a unique pale lavender.
O'Keeffe painted Cedar Tree with Lavender Hills in 1937 when her reputation was high in the art world. Her fame would not diminish until the mid-1940s. In the late '60s, after Judy Chicago and her colleagues had brought women artists to the fore, O'Keeffe's work resurfaced, and she became a popular feminist icon. Today she is thought of as a groundbreaking and solid painter's painter, an American Master.
Han Xin, "Here and There" – Always an artist
Han Xin's Curtain of Giverny (France)
“Here and There,” an exhibit of 40 new paintings by internationally lauded artist Han Xin, will show at Gallery V, 694 N. High Street, through November 26.
No list of qualifications can determine the world’s most outstanding painter. But there is no more powerful and versatile practitioner of the brush than Xin, who
has made Ohio his home since 1987, although he grew up in China and travels frequently to exhibit in London, New York, Shanghai, and Rome.
The narrative of Xin’s career has been told and retold by dozens of reviewers. Born in the ancient city of Shanghai, Xin was taught by social realist and traditional masters. As a teenager he was considered one of the “Black” or suspect artists during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. At that time, the Chinese government considered “modern” art, even Impressionism, dangerous.
Xin’s technique was enriched by teachers at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, and clandestinely by Russian and “Western” artists who had been influenced by European artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Han Xin once bicycled under cover of darkness to look at a Monet postcard!
With the alacrity of youth, Xin emigrated in 1981 to the United States, where he earned a Degree of Fine Arts in Painting from the California College of Arts and Crafts. In 1989, he won a Reader’s Digest Residency Award, which allowed him to live and work in Claude Monet’s studio in Giverny. Monet, that shimmer of light, remains an enormous influence.
In 1993, Xin was one of 14 artists selected by the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation for a grant of free studio space, which allowed him to paint in New York City for a year. The city inspired Xin to paint the notable subway series, “Odyssey,” which showed at Gallery V four years ago.
The works in “Here and There” include gouache paintings, most much smaller than his oils on canvas. Xin likes the thickness and richness of gouache, an opaque watercolor.
Curtain of Giverny is one of Xin’s Monet-inspired abstracts. Curtain consists of vibrant blossom-hued strokes that splash off the edges of the thick paper. Xin knows how to make pale colors, fountain sprays, grab the eye. Curtain dances with flowing patterns, timeless changing – Monet’s legacy of light. In Reflection (Giverny, France), the ageless spirit of Giverny ponds has been apprehended through bold flashes of aquamarines, purples, and whites. Oddly, these heavy strokes express a mood of lightness and radiance.
I asked Xin years ago how he made his paintings shimmer, without additives or glitz, in a way that’s peculiar to him. He thought for a while, then said, “I think it’s because in the beginning I was made to work for hours in pencil – to draw, to shade – impeccably in pencil. That has something to do with it.”
Austere, yet mind-blowing when you pay attention, the gouache-on-paper works circumnavigate the globe. You’ll hear a Russian Rhapsody, feel a Sensation of Java (Indonesia), and see a dusty Coliseum when Time Stands Still in Rome, while Moonlight Over Silk Road (Central Asia) will make you catch your breath.
Xin’s small works on paper include a striking series of Forbidden City Gates. These red mathematical abstracts are of aesthetic grids which demonstrate how sunlight falls on each gate in each season of the year and at morning, noon, dusk, and night.
All of the gouache paintings might be called poems – haiku, perhaps. Abstract yet emotional, they take us, for an instant, somewhere.
American Beauty: The large paintings
Entering Gallery V you will see, directly to the left, a humorous yet professionally executed piece de resistance. An enormous turkey fills the 3-by-3-foot canvas and seems to beg for stuffing. The gobbler is a realist-impressionist-pop-art Tom with authentically arranged feathers in subdued but accurate colors. The painting, American Beauty (Ohio) may, in time, become an icon of painterly Americana, along with Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington or Jasper John’s American flags.
Han Xin dances nimbly between all disciplines and schools. The painting Champs Elyse (Paris) Diptick is strongly geometric and abstract. With rows of stony squares painted in ivory, gold, and lilac tones, Xin suggests cobblestones, bricks, or even Parisian dwellings on the Champs or Field. The brush work, and possibly knife work, is lush yet controlled. The City of Light has been caught in a geometric frieze, a dawn, in which the divide becomes part of the painting entire.
There (Forbidden City, Beijing) is a brilliant oil painting about the same size as Champs Elyse. No doubt about the Chinese red in this painting, the reds of the carefully stacked rectangles that form the gates, doorways inside doorways. The front gate is an uncompromising, if sun-influenced, red. We notice many lines and see a sun-red square at the bottom and a lilac-red square at the top. Nine large iron studs march in nine straight rows across the door; each stud casts its own shadow in the correct direction. The painting’s larger inner area has been framed with green and orange lines that suggest decorated columns.
Step inside the patio where the walls are swathed with orange and red squares of Beijing sun. The bluish flagstones are edged with lavender, and a marvelous Chinese bulldog sprawls sleepily upon them. Gaze upward and see beyond the patio a sand field, and beyond that a gray series of arches; above that, a blood-peach sky. Only one artist could have painted this scene.
The magical mountains of Tibet beckon from Top of the World (Tibet-Mt. Everest). This 47-by-55-inch oil serves as the postcard image for the show. Top of the World is similar to a “trick of the eye,” for it fools viewers into seeing a purely abstract painting, then allows us to see a gold-strafed and magenta mountain top appear and disappear. It’s a Shangri La beckoning through misty blues and shadows, splats of orange, green, and purple, with broad but not heavy, straight-edged strokes. The effect is pleasing in depth and tone, and spiritual – the viewer can breathe on top of this Everest.
Always an artist
Han Xin has three sons, two in university and one in sixth grade. All three were “outstanding artists in elementary school. Then, their teacher began to try to control them. They began to be interested in other things. But they grew up with art surrounding them, and yes, they do enjoy art.”
The painter loves spending time with his sons, sharing their insights on politics and their “ knowledge of computer culture.” He believes that each age has its own wisdom: “Older people are coming from their own experiences, and that’s good. Young people have a different viewpoint, and that’s good. What’s wonderful is the sharing. We can learn from each other.”
Xin uses his art to cope with the world around him. “I try to be a positive person, active. I feel the culture now is media-driven, especially in politics. This is distressing, and yes, I have some problems of disillusionment, inside and out. So I work through my art with a professional discipline; I’m an artist, a painter, I am always working on that, and I deliberately distance a bit emotionally from the negative in these new paintings. I transform my negative feelings into something positive. Beauty. And I leave some interpretation to the viewer. People need beauty no matter what’s going on.”
The painter speaks enthusiastically about his recent trips to Shanghai, describing the city as “booming” – totally different from the gloom, darkness, and danger when I was young. You’ll find everything there. All kinds of music, culture. It’s capitalism!”
Painting is Xin’s work and leisure, although he occasionally enjoys a game of tennis and infrequently finds time to swim in his pool. He also enjoys the studious life: “I guess I’m a scholar, scholarly. First of all I’m a professional artist, a painter. Yes, I read. I love Chinese poetry, thousands of years old. I love classical music even though lately I have stopped my habit of listening while I paint. I love Shakespeare.
Xin also still enjoys travel. “I love to travel to my exhibits but that is demanding especially as I grow older. I’m almost fifty years old. The painting carries me on.”
Flying indefatigably on the wings of art, Han Xin paints with unbeatable strength and versatility.
Here and There.
Gallery V is located at 694 N. High St. in Columbus, Ohio. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment. Call 614-228-8955
Monet to Matisse: A joy forever
"Monet to Matisse: The Triumph of Impressionism and the Avant Garde" is a delicious aperitif of 78 master works by 37 different artists whose names are all, if not household words, certainly art-school words. Monet, Matisse, Degas and Renoir top the roster of luminaries. The exhibit is an invaluable gift to the museum from local art enthusiasts Howard L. and Babbette D. Sirak.
The Siraks have collected examples of Impressionism, German Expressionism, Cubism and Fauvism. And, as Howard Sirak chuckled at the media opening when he quoted a dealer, Sam Salz, "Each one is hand-painted!" That's for certain, and no slide, digital image or photograph can duplicate the masters' touch. There's no substitute for seeing the real thing.
Genius travels through time. From Pierre-August Renoir the exhibit offers not only the luscious La Bohemienne (The Gypsy Girl), painted in pastel in 1895, and the sensuous Bay of Naples, painted in 1882 when my grandmother was not yet born, but also the striking oil portrait Christine LeRolle Embroidering, painted around 1897.
Christine is alive; her orange-red dress, likely a silk, rises and falls with her breath. Her light brown hair has been drawn up, and her strong fingers and hands pluck at a rectangular bamboo lap frame, unlike the "hoops" commonly used today. She may be cross stitching; more likely she's embroidering a pattern. She's a rosy Renoir woman, a vintage icon for our fast-image minds. Two bearded dignitaries peruse an art collection behind her. Surrounded by middle-class affluence, Christine refuses to leave her work, and the artist has taken her seriously.
Renoir believed in the value of handmade goods and had many reservations about the machine age. If he were alive today he might call himself a Luddite and, with his friend Monet, attend events at the Sierra Club!
Unfamiliar with the work of James Ensor, a Belgian painter who lived from 1860 to 1949, I became intrigued by his imaginative spirit and painterly skill. His two paintings in this show are quite different from each other. Les Coquillages (The Sea Shells) is a large oil-on-canvas painted in 1895. It's a dream of intricacy and layers. Five elegantly detailed seashells are arranged in symmetry, almost dead center. The scene is undeniably a beach; the sky and sea meet two thirds down with but a faint division. Ensor has painted the sky in luscious egg shell and lilac blues, and soft aquamarine tones stained by faint magenta. The shells - conch, clam, snail - have been arranged in a kind of pyramid in which five shells predominate, are probably more than life sized, and each shell has a pattern of its own. Smaller shells bask on each side - snails and clamlets, a small starfish. Each sea object is detailed, and as the viewer moves back and forth, layers of meaning and paint unfold.
Ensor's parents owned a souvenir shop, likely close to the sea, where they sold not only shells and paperweights but also costumes and masks. The artist, who felt alienated in a conservative European society, painted the horrifying La Assassinat (The Assassination) in 1895. Costumed like mummers and marionettes, the masked killers, accompanied by drummers and flute players, are caught in the act of slitting the throat of a nameless victim tied down to a long bench. One assassin holds the arms, and a beak-masked personage is cutting the throat. Blood trickles into a white basin. Coarse unmasked faces peer through windows. The painting's style lies somewhere between Fauvism and Expressionism. The costumes, and a deliberately crude rendering, create a horrifying yet fantastical scene.
Nanette Maciejunes, the executive director of the Columbus Museum of Art, was correct in saying that the show "encapsulatesÉ the dramatic change in art that took place beginning with the advent of ImpressionismÉ Without the revolution propelled by Monet we would not have a Jackson Pollock or a Rothco." Or an Ensor.
Monet took things he saw into new complexities of light. He and his colleagues - Renoir, Pisarro, Manet - became more than cameras, or recorders of classical memory. They painted "impressions." The hues of their palettes became brighter, less evenly modulated.
Kircher, Nolde, and Klee took the Impressionist mode even farther. They unintentionally became Expressionists. They thrived in Germany, but Alexej Jawlensky, a Russian (1864-1941), painted the show's postcard image, Schokko with Red Hat.
Who is, or was, Schokko? A student? A waitress? A fashion model - or all three? Nobody knows. She loves hot chocolate! She can still entrance us with her bright red hat and lips, her looped red scarf. Her hat is adorned with purple linen flowers echoed by a strategic green dot, probably a hat pin; her wildly colorful muff hangs from a green loop.
The expression on Schokko's face is disdainful, yet she loves a great time, and her Expressionist skin is green. Jawlensky liked to paint in opposites, hence the dominance of red and green.
At the media opening, charming collector Babbette Sirak said that she treasures the memories of days when "we held receptions in our home and so many nice people came in to see the art. Everyone was wonderful."
Her husband, Howard, said of collecting the paintings, "After a while they begin to have a life of their own. It becomes a love affair."
Accompanying the Sirak show is a black-and-white 60-minute video made from 1895 footage shot with early cameras by the pioneering Lumiere brothers. Kinetic poetry in black and white - nightgowns, swimming tights, top hats and bicycle races. On the museum's lower level the Sirak Collection is celebrated by a 30-minute video - definitely a "don't miss."
"Monet to Matisse: The Triumph of Impressionism and the Avant Garde" will show at the Columbus Museum of Art through December 31. The museum is at 480 East Broad Street. Call 614-221-6801 or visit their Web site www.columbusmuseum.org.
SPARKS AND RETROSPARKS
The Sharon Weiss Gallery, at 20 E. Lincoln, will open the gallery's first two artists' shows on Sunday, September 26, from 1 to 4 p.m. In "Beyond Words," Stacy Leeman, who showed work in the spring at 853 Gallery, will present paintings, and Renate Burgyan, an OSU graduate who has worked in clay since 1986, will show her sculpture.
Bill Miller's work at Lindsay Gallery blew everybody away. The artist cuts and arranges pieces of vintage linoleum to create complex, colorful paintings. Miller takes the descriptive "Folk" to new heights. Miller's Lincoln at the Front is heartbreaking. Strange Fruit presents the lynching of two black men on crosses, with Christ on the third cross.
The artist, who works in Silver Spring, Maryland, and Long Beach has had shows around the country and received positive reviews in The New York Times. His work was at Lindsay Gallery in June and early July, and will continue to be available through the "folk and outsider art" gallery, located at 986 N. High Street.
Up at Lindsay for September will be noteworthy Columbus Landmark Paintings by the recently deceased Rev. William Phillips.
The nonprofit ROY G BIV Gallery at 997 N. High Street offers two shows in September. Carrie Dickason, Melinda McDaniel and Kathryn Lynch will present "Installations and Mixed Media" at the home gallery, and a photo exhibit, "Image Ohio," will show at Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery, 546 Jack Gibbs Blvd.
Enjoyed at ROY: "The Plinko Project" celebrated a gameshow theme. Color, punk, pop, TV and cartoon images dominated, and in some cases the descriptive "in your face" seemed appropriate. Liam O'Brien's bright, aggressive, fluffy Bunnis were painted in flat, livid pastels, and were so tall and grinning, I thought they might knock me down or pelt me with dyed eggs! Katherine Grandey's tiny tiddly-wink Found Objects gave me pause. These six identical small tin trays spoke of bridge mints and garage sales, "over the river and through the woods" in a U-Haul.
Brian Campbell's Untitled mini series vibrated with a certain delicacy, and his mixed media panels in acrylic, screen prints and vinyl intrigued viewers. Campbell makes the most of spare lines and a minimal use of color. His subtlety is refreshing; he is fascinated by communication and concepts.
The work of Tara Espinoza, a recent OSU grad now teaching printmaking at Reading Area Community College in Pennsylvania, emerged as an all-time hit at the ROY G BIV show. Her small humorous works, in Sculpey polymer clay, tile and acrylic, display technical wizardry and originality. Espinoza is not afraid of detail and unique ideas, and seems to be obstinately patient. When the hamster gets jealous is about six inches tall. The painstakingly formed tiny hamster brandishes a cylindrical red, white and blue flag (or firecracker) and strikes at a reptile emerging from a toilet. Espinoza's who-dang an old fashion slug parti! is a writhing quagmire of 2-inch carousing green Sculpey slugs, rolling in their own slurp, dancing on a table and drinking straight from tiny beer bottles.
Adam Brouillette's illustrative Rain-bow on Panel is still sending vibes to my memory, and the huge Butterflies Are My Brain is firing vibes at O'Brien's Bunnis. Brouillette's hues and forms dance from 60 paces. Move over Yek; the Midwest is firing back!
Martin Weiland's Presentation of the Virgin at the Temple is a ROY G BIV masterpiece. All kinds of associations and vibrations emanate from it. Weiland's careful, progressive use of color photography, ballpoint, acrylic, graphite, collage and minimal color reminds us of the past and teases us into the present.
The artists at ROY G BIV continue to create with joie de vivre and technical aplomb. Lorah Stone, an MFA candidate, is an amazing gallery assistant. The gallery is open Wednesday - Friday, 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.
(From the Aug. '04 issue)
Art For Community Expression (ACE)
25th Anniversary Exhibition
ACE, Art for Community Expression, presents their 25th Anniversary Exhibition at the Elijah Pierce Gallery in The King Arts Complex through August 14. The artists in this juried member show work in a variety of media ranging from acrylic, oil and watercolor paintings to digital photography, jewelry, ceramics, sculpture and fabric art. There are 25 artists and 55 art works in the exhibit which is definitely a Don't-Miss.
772 N. High, in the Body Shop building, became ACE Gallery in 1986. In 1979, members had begun to meet in various spaces where they discussed how best to achieve their goal: "To promote and assist established and emerging African American local artists."
The organization left 772 in 2000, but the membership continues to meet and to present exhibitions and seminars. In November, a major exhibition at Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery is scheduled.
Columbus` Omar Shaheed, won Best of Show in the current ACE exhibit for Man with a Flute, an imposing limestone sculpture (28" x 14" x 12").
This ancient, timeless jazz man has been carved in strong angles and musical curves. His robe, a long dish-dashi or dashiki, is mottled gray. His face and his fingers are brown. His eyes are downcast; he's lost in sound, in mystic concentration, and his skin is bronze-hued. Powerful fingers grasp a strange large curving stone flute, and his kaffyah or head covering is sharp-angled, like a temple roof.
Shaheed, known for neo-classical fountains and identifiable musicians, many of them jazz men, is a fine sculptor, adept at infusing his stationary personages with rhythm and personality. An "Omar" can move while it's standing still, and that's a mystery and a tribute to the sculptor's skill.
Talle Bamazi, proprietor and director of Kiaca Gallery, won Second Place with his poignant The Smile of African Child. Bamazi is "a stickler" for painting well. The African child is composed of oil on linen (52" by 74"). Visible from the waist up, the boy is wrapped in a coarse white blanket with a brown border.
The robe shadows a wide brown face which is weary, perhaps, but not emaciated, not despairing. The dark-as-time eyes look straight at us. The child manages a wan smile, his fingers grasping the rough material, and we catch a glimpse of large wooden beads. To the left, the background, bleak brown and gray, split between tan earth and smokey sky, has been spliced by a tent pole, or more likely, a herder's stick.
In Kiaca gallery, Bamazi had said of the child "You know, he's all right if there is no war. He may be poor, but he's all right. He's okay."
Marilyn Foster has painted a proud-as-punch mixed media on board, The Short North (24" x 18.5"). The mood is upbeat. Buildings have been drawn, or outlined, in black. Tall offices loom purple. The Fort Hayes Hotel is gold. The perspective is tilted so that a stretch of pink-edged grass tumbles upward, providing a background against which four colorfully dressed figures promenade. A big round clock announces that it's a quarter 'til noon. The BILT House is a brite lime green. Tiny people move behind small open windows. We see a red balloon and a wooden bench. The painting is well-executed yet deliciously childlike. We're at Market Plaza where everything is jazzy and upbeat on a warm sunny day!
There is no shoddy work in this large ACE show. As I look back certain images float to the surface. Ron Anderson's gorgeously painted ballerina and his monumental "Club" painting, Sundance. Anderson teaches at CCAD. Many of the artists here are instructors and professors.
Jenita Landrum-Bittle's The Beginning or the End. Her assemblage/construction includes a litle girl's photograph, a rusty tricycle, and the American flag. It seemed a kind of a hallmark for the show. Kojo Kamau's Photograph, Father's Hands, a moment frozen in time, proves that an ordinary gesture, that of combing a child's stiff hair, can be extraordinary. Pepper's Cradle of the Elements, in clay wood and glass, begged for water, a fish, a candle. The piece glowed.
When I saw H. Ike Okafor-Newsum's Collage-n-Spirit Box Assemblage, I didn't know whether to jump up and shout,
or to kneel down and pray. It's a life &endash; the aging artist's memories through structures and objects assembled with grace and integrity.
The Elijah Pierce Gallery is located in the King Arts Complex 867 Mt. Vernon Avenue. Call (614) 645-5464.
(From the Aug. '04 issue)
A familiar face and a flourish of innovative artwork and artwear
It's an artful new venue, and you'll love what you see inside. Sherrie Gallerie, 937 North High, opened in June 2004 under the expert direction of Sherrie Riley Hawk, owner and curator.
The Gallerie exhibits and sells ceramic sculpture, jewelry, and various art items such as wall hangings, blown glass creations, and dinnerware. Each object has been professionally crafted, and each is one of a kind, and that, truly, is Art, with a capital A. Such descriptives as "unique," "innovative," "creative," float to the surface when the scene is recalled.
New York's Biba Schutz exhibits her "Squiggle" series at Sherrie's, and she's planning an appearance at the Gallerie for May 2005.
"Biba is a master in bi-metal adornment and internationally known as "the pioneer of wire jewelry," Riley Hawk explained. "Some new items in her Squiggle series have been crafted in oxydized silver and 18 karat gold. I'm wearing her necklace."
Schutz knows how to use negative space. "Squiggle" consists of hollow-centered links or rings. Each link is slightly irregular, a bit different than the link next to it, and the combined effect of the bi-metal, in this case, silver and gold, is smashing! The links have been conjoined, but how?
Schutz likes jewelry that moves, is flexible on the wearer's body, and she knows how to conjoin pieces in mysterious, imperceptible ways.
Schutz's creations, in fact, all of the jewelry items at Sherrie's, although unusual, are understated. Not gaudy or flashy.
Schutz's Twig is a dream. Imagine bent and cut twigs the size of 4-inch nails, which form a collar. Or, imagine a necklace of dull silver thorns, not sharp ones, of course. Twig's flexible shape and lustre makes it seem to hum like a space vehicle. Twig is the perfect adornment for a corporate goddess at a platinum gala.
Carmen Valdes, newer to the scene than Schutz, makes drop-dead beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, in black rubber tubing. Classic simplicity rules in Valdes' minimalist adornments. The tubing resembles rolled velvet, and the clasps and single-center ornaments are dull silver. The visual effect catches up with you, like a jet boom.
Karen Gilbert's Peek, a brooch, resembles a lobster's silver claw with a "spark" glistening inside. Pods is a necklace resembling a string of heavy lotus buds. Gilbert's shape-ornaments appear hefty yet they remain light to the touch. Gilbert knows how to use negative space. (Note: the term shape-ornament is used to describe an abstract but not geometric shape, one suggestive of many natural world shapes. Chihuly's glass shapes are often abstractions that suggest many natural shapes.)
Wandering through Sherrie's, I saw a Fringe bracelet, whether by Gilbert or Valdes, Fringe is delectable and moves with the wrist; it's of dull brown metal and the fringes are tipped with miniscule carnelians. Beyond the fringe!
Lightweight, eye-catching Zemi Accessories will be featured in August. Zemi Accessories fuses dichroic and colored glass resulting in beautifully changing colored bracelets, earrings, and necklaces.
Designer Donna Dreher guarantees every aspect of her work. "Zemi Accessories = bold and contemporary."
Sherrie Gallerie exhibits highly esteemed clay, ceramic sculpture. Sherrie Riley Hawk has wisely chosen work by major area sculptors, many of them instructors at universities.
Thomas Bartel's imposing clay Double Mask Figure stood in the window during July. "This work is fired on average 10 times. Bartel's aim for perfection is tireless," Riley Hawk said. The flesh-hued figure, around 3 1/2-ft tall, stands from the hips up. Obviously, the mood is "beach," and this is a swimmer. Look closely. The undergarments, or the pink bikini, are worn not only where they should be worn, but they form goggles or a mask over the eyes. Bartel teaches sculpture at Western Kentucky University. "We all wear masks," he says.
Curtis Benzle, teaching at CCAD, has sculpted Celeste, a large fan-shaped scalloped vessel that suggests oceans, blossoms, the natural world in flower above and below the scene. The ripples and muted stripes on this lovely oriface are unbelievable. Benzle is influenced by Japanese art. Although Benzle's quietly elaborate object, Celeste, exudes vibrations of romance and Asian simplicity, it is very much contemporary.
The shiny, spiritual, multi-shaped dinnerware by Charlotte Gordon is also a pure joy. Gordon teaches clay arts at the Springfield Art Center. Her magical kindergarten designs are often inspired when toddlers draw rain clouds and other simple shapes from the natural world. The results are wonderful
Sherrie Riley Hawk is an Ohio State University alumnae. She owns a home in Victorian Village, and her favorite way to spend any leisure time is to be with her daughter, an ardent soccer and basketball player. Although she likes to read fiction, Sherrie currently spends much time studying the art and craft of ceramics.
Sherrie Gallerie is located at 937 N. High. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays thru
(From the July '04 issue)
KIACA GALLERY: Excellence in African Art
Under the expert direction of proprietor Talle Bamazi, Kiaca Gallery, 941 N. High, shows the best in contemporary African art. In June the sophisticated and appealing works of Senegalese artist Makudy Sall were exhibited at Kiaca and will remain available through the gallery. Sall is hot! He's exhibited in such high-profile spots as the Blue Sky Gallery and Times Square Lobby Gallery in New York, and his work has been in the National Black Fine Art Show several times.
His recent Kiaca show consisted of 15 large mixed-media paintings and three freestanding sculptures. Sall paints using acrylic, metal, board and sediment - whatever does the job. Yet his contemporary work is formal and tightly crafted.
"Recalling a Country" is a large mixed-media painting, 59 by 63 inches. In the center, two large lizards cross each other, forming the nucleus of a kind of square mandala.
"When two beings cross, this is a blessing," Bamazi explains. "The ancestors are present - they are always present."
The lizards pose against a sea, a complex background of dark greens and blues widening into a field of tans, golds and browns - the hues of African nature. This is one of Sall's "Rock Paintings," a series in which he honors calligraphs, marks, scratches. Look closely: dim outlines, human figures gesturing and screaming angrily, about to scratch and pummel each other. Other "marks" float on the surface, which is grainy, imbued with granite dust and hardened dribbles of glue. The painting goes beyond texture in capturing an immanent personal universe.
Sall, Bamazi says, "is asking why, why if God made us, red-brown-black-white-yellow, why would we kill each other?"
Sall's "Din Buck To" is a blast. A shiny black, medium-sized wall piece, this elephant has rings on its tail, or nose, and the humor is not missed. Sall's other 3-D pieces - resembling totems, zebras, big birds - ranged the Kiaca gallery, imparting a whimsical spirit to the space, which itself is long, brown and spacious, like a veldt.
In July, Kiaca will open the first US exhibit by sculptor Jean Luc Bambara, including a personal appearance at the gallery. The artist, the son of an African king, is originally from Burkina Faso but has recently lived in Spain.
Working in wood, bronze and stone, Bambara is not only a sculptor but also a stone cutter, according to Bamazi. Bambara's work appears to be medium sized yet massive, and is reminiscent of 1930s sculpture employing geometric ovals and cubist angles. These fine statues are a tribute to the feminine and the maternal, and bear such titles in French as "Maternity" and "Fragility." They exude vulnerability and power, and should prove graceful additions to both indoor and outdoor spaces - appropriate offerings for the son of a contemporary king.
Bamazi notes that Bambara has made himself an international reputation while living in Spain: "As in the Renaissance the artist had to please the king, so, in order to be creative, Jean Luc Bambara must live in Spain." Bambara's list of exhibits and credits was so extensive, I became exhausted reading it.
The August Gallery Hop opening should be a true shower of sparks when Bamazi, an award-winning painter, and Columbus' internationally-accoladed sculptor, Omar Shaheed, present a two-man show.
A don't-miss opportunity
In the meantime, Talle Bamazi is teaching affordable painting and art classes for adults and children at Kiaca. This is a chance to work with a master painter with a generous manner and high esprit. Bamazi earned his MFA degree from the prestigious New York Academy of Art. And he teaches - at least the adults - the real way: You'll learn to stretch canvas! Bamazi believes that African sailors discovered the North American continent thousands of years ago and now it's time for Columbus to discover African contemporary art!
Kiaca is at 941 N. High St. The gallery is open Wednesday-Friday from 1 to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 8 pm. Call 298-0028.
Sparks and Retrosparks
On Gallery Hop night, drop by Studio Ash, 17 W. Fifth Avenue, "just about where the Short North begins". Thomas Keefer's workwill be there throughout July; it's his first solo show. Andrew Hippensteele, curator, describes Keefer's work as "rather large abstract mixed media with surrealistic elements. His palette is subdued, warm, but he knows how to use bright accents."
Keefer earned a fine arts degree from the Ohio State University in 1991 and has exhibited his work widely around Columbus. I intend to see his show.
A Don't Miss: At the Ohio Arts Council's Riffe Gallery, "The Quilted Surface II: International Contemporary Art Quilts by Quilt Surface Design Symposium Participants" will show through July 18.
The Muse has got to admit that she's become slightly jaded with the art quilt scene. No matter. Each of the 36 wall quilts has been beautifully executed and conceived. Not a flashy-ripped-thread-flash-in-the-pan to be seen! Thanks to jurors Jill Davis and Fred Wert - and to The Impeccables: Linda Fowler and Nancy Crow, master artists of fabric.
Two Columbus artists did themselves proud: Georgia Cline includes Bits and Pieces II which provided the postcard motif, bright amd quirky! Super! Sue Cavanaugh's Baskets 5, one of the few "3-D" pieces, hung near the door and
quietly caught everyone's attention. Cavanaugh seemed to have "woven" the baskets in lovely earth and sky tones which emit harmonious vibrations.
At Thomas R. Riley Galleries, 642 N. High, John Woodward's huge painted ceramic heads loomed, glowered, stared at viewers during June and will continue. The larger-than-life eyes seemed remarkably real. Woodward is a University of Iowa alum with many exhibits and awards to his credit. In 1998, he won First Place in the CMA show at Paint Creek Center for the Arts in Rochester Michigan. He states: "I use this generic head as a symbol of humanity."
Also at Riley, Lucy Lyon's colorful cast glass scenarios are delicious! In Night Readers, hundreds of neatly shelved volumes fill the stacks of a glass library. There, one finds two glass readers and one glass shelver (yes, they're glass people) quietly at work. Tones of the clear glass? Primary yet soft. Terrific.
Columbus is blessed with superb glass art. The spectacular Paul Stankard visited Glass Axis in June and will show at Hawk Galleries, 153 E. Main, until July 31. Stankard appeared at Hawk's gala opening where he demonstrated lampworking, a method by which he fashions tiny glass blossoms and stems which themselves "blossom" inside clear glass. White-haired and affable he spoke of his faith, his awe in the presence of nature. His creations are botanically accurate, if tiny. How does he do it?
If you don't drop by Cameo Gallery at 772 N. High, you're missing first-class glass objects and sculpture in the traditional American glass mode. You'll want to live with a Cameo around you.
At the Ohio State University Faculty Club through August 27, Andy Hudson, a charter member of ACME and much more, will show glass art with Ben Hartley's paintings in "Hartley and Hudson." Hudson is a well-known and tireless arts advocate. The Ohio State University Faculty Club at 181 S. Oval is expertly directed by Marion Fisher, Art Coordinator. Call 292-2262.
Artists from Sharon Weiss Gallery recently gathered together for a picnic at Paul Emory's farm. They got some plein air painting done too. A paper-nibbling goat in an orange bib posed for John Conklin, and the results may be seen at the gallery. Conklin is new at Weiss; he makes a fine addition. Carla Valenti and Matt Kinsey, time travelers, uphold the finest of painting traditions there.
Also find Edwin C. Shuttleworth III's modest-sized oil paintings, outdoor scenes and landscapes, true painterly gems. Not ostentatious, just darn classy. His Columbus area works, especially Neil Avenue, are an investor's dream. The epitome of urban and suburban U.S.A. Not nostalgia but now. Like the poet once said, "The one true universal is the local."
Mrs Turnblat from the Broadway production of Hair Spray appeared in hot pink shoes at High Road Gallery, 12 E. Stratford Avenue in Worthington, during June. The sculptured dame, actuallya replica of Harvey Fierstein in drag, was created by Linda Apple who once owned Apple Gallery at 689 N High. (Now she runs the Blue Door Studio and Gallery and treasures a personal response from Harvey!)
BalletMet received good solid critical reviews in the New York Times for their Joyce Theater stint, which featured Deanna Carter's Colores de Alma, James Kudelka's Gazebo Dances, and Stanton Welch's Play. Hisham Omardien and Sonia Welker received special notice.
(From the June '04 issue)
Sparks and Retrosparks
Michael Orr Gallery is just up the pike from the Short North at 1331 King Avenue in Grandview. Two Columbus College of Art and Design alumni, Craig Dransfield and Clint Davidson, will show "Double D" through June 26, 2004.
The opening was hot and the art is too, and both of these pop artists tend to paint (kind of) big and are able to catch the viewer in a flash.
Davidson rightly considers his striking, highly stylized work to be the more iconic of the two. His animals and caricatures allow viewers to form their own reactions to the emblematic Frog, Pelican, Giraffe, Black Widow, and the invitation's Praying Mantis. He admits to admiring the rowdy Simpsons and South Park. He considers his palette to be more subdued than Dransfield's, with less of a narrative line.
Craig Dransfield admires Jasper Johns. Dransfield's latex-painted panels contain a present, if discreet, social narrative. Some of his found boards have been weathered, like inn signs, and in his Spoon Fed, we envision a large mouth slurping from a spoon. Dransfield has an active interest in public and site-specific art.
Michael Orr is a fine gallery with great framing; Davidson works there full time, has a second job, and paints in waking hours.
Big News at JungHaus! Throughout June, Phyllis Rosen will show "Journeys and Explorations: Inside and Out," a series of watercolors at the Gallery. Rosen, a practicing psychologist in the central Ohio area, has been painting since childhood, and her watercolors have been exhibited in numerous shows. She received an Ohio State Fair Fine Arts award in 2002 and has participated in watercolor workshops. Her works include fantasy and dream images as well as portraits and still life.
JungHaus is moving into a big Victorian house at 59 West Third, just down the street from Yoga on High at the end of May. Rosen's watercolors will travel from 29 East Russell to the new address where they will show through June 28. Claire Hagan-Bauza, curator and gallery director, says JungHaus is considering a change to Sunday rather than Saturday for openings. Call 621-8217 to confirm hours for viewing art exhibits.
Happy 14th Anniversary, JACO! JungHaus Gallery is the resident art gallery for JACO, the C.G. Jung Association of Central Ohio, which is housed in JungHaus.
Dropped by Waldo's, 755 N. High. Patti has a great hang-space. I saw outstanding art by Randy Stegall, Art Consultant at The Art Connection. Stegal's large "paintings" are first class, unique - its hard to be truly unique. His palette ranges from vibrant, not loud, to subdued and intricately woven. How he does these "weavings" and "strings" which meld so beautifully, is beyond me. They're collages, they're woven, they're painted, they're strung and dripped and precisely balanced and you've gotta see 'em. Waldo's has shown some of the best in emerging art. If Stegal's work is gone, try the Art Connection 561-9297.
At Echoes Art & Antiques, 24 E. Lincoln Street, I saw some wonderful stone carvings, celtic, traditional, that make one think of castle gardens and Jane Austin. The massive sandstone and limestone benches, made by Dayman Davis, look good, feel good and are selling like hotcakes (very heavy ones).
Please, please, pick up a brochure at Ohio Craft Museum, 1665 West Fifth Avenue. Over 20 summer workshops, for all ages. Better than a banana split! Try A Theatrical Feast of Art on June 15, 22 and 29. Grades 2 -5 will use theatre, bring to life, works by Jacob Lawrence, Matisse, and Edward Hicks (all now at Columbus Art Museum). June 13 is For The Birds, creating a bird feeder. You'll find Precious Metal Clay. How about Brass Leaves? Flower Fold Books? Call 486-4402 now for June and July. Prices are reasonable. p
(From the May '04 issue)
Masters of Art at Mahan Gallery
There's a spiffy new gallery at 1042 N. High Street. The spacious Mahan Gallery, refurbished under the direction of its new owner, Jacqueline Mahan, possesses gleaming white walls, an overlay of shiny hardwood floors, and great track lighting. As I recall, the vintage tin ceiling, painted white, retains a lamp motif. (As in Florence Nightingale's lamp.)
Each month, one outside wall is covered with a smooth slick "painting" from that month's exhibit. In April, Jill Gallen-stein's photograph of a woman hanging out the window, astonished everyone.
Peter Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Outdoor, shares Mahan space, invisibly, and he's the guy who makes the temporary murals possible.
Steve Seeley and Fernando Orellana will present their Ohio State University Master's Thesis show at Mahan in May. Transmissions From Space will likely prove that Mahan is on target in her desire to showcase emerging artists. The exhibit will be up for the Gallery Hop on May 1, but the opening is May 8.
Seeley's mixed media prints are unusual; their cartoon-like edginess, their outer-space-inspired images, exist as pale acrylics rather than tech-brite splashes. And the artist often paints in layers.
Similar to Orellana, Seeley uses text and is autobiographical. Look closely and see iconographic figures: Astronauts, birds, dogs...
Like most contemporary artists Seeley and Orellana grew up with TV and the Three C's: cartoons, comics, and computers. Yet, the two artists are soft-spoken, diligent, and apt to infuse computer-savvy efforts with introspection.
Seeley is interested in transitions and associations - this blends into that, this could be that and reminds us of this. Other worlds and transitions. He knows silk screen techniques, and, says Orellana, "many of Steve's prints resemble silk screen paintings."
Seeley says that Orellana likes to be called one name, "Fernando." Fernando's work is the more "outre" of the two. His mixed media show includes three sculptural pieces, installations. He will show
"a long blue line, a strip, an installation with infra red and an attachment. And it moves and you can see through it and people will go crazy about it".
The quotation above is a compilation of how Mahan and Seeley described one of Fernando's wall sculptures, and although I have not seen, I do believe.
Orellana also employs radio communications - "The machine looked for God on the A.M. Radio" - and is quite interested in quizzes and IQ questions. There is a Web site associated with one of these IQ questions at the following address: www.question34.com.
Use of space, outer and spatial, of text, and iconography, by both artists, help tie the double show together. Both are keen observers of the arts scene. They surf popular culture for deep concepts, and they know how to combine paint, print, digital images and text.
Jill Gallenstein, MFA, recently returned from New York University to Columbus with large imaginative color photos. She had a one-woman show at Mahan in April. In Suburban Landscapes a solitary woman has been caught in various natural poses and in casual attire - underslips and frocks, no denims as I recall - against austere and familiar landscapes. Low-hung apartments, flooded fields, parking lots. The photographer uses actual negatives and develops them. Her sense of composition is solid; her ambiance, dramatic, not brassy.
Jacqueline Mahan, curator, director, owner, is a Victorian Village resident. She grew up in Upper Arlington, attended Fort Hayes, and earned her BFA at the Boston Art Institute. Her father is a noted bridge builder who worked hard to get where he is. The Lane Avenue Bridge is but one of his accomplishments. Her mom encouraged art museum trips and collected oil paintings. "I have a strong support system," the new gallery owner says.
Mahan strives. She cares about emerging artists, and she wants to succeed. Her leisure time is minimal. If she has some she hangs out with friends or walks her two chihuahuas, Molly and Dorothy - after Dorothy from "The Golden Girls." She likes Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys, and once in awhile she watches TV documentaries and movies.
She admires novelist Wally Lamb; She's Come Undone and I Know This Much, fictional memoirs, were high points. She's trying to decide how she feels about philosopher Ayn Rand who's kind of making a comeback.
At 22, the energetic curator remains sincere and outspoken. She speaks well of ROY G BIV, and wearily of "elitist" art venues. Yet, she's aware that CCAD and OSU send throngs of talented art graduates into the community.
Mahan's non-silent partner is Will Fugman, former CCAD student. He works part time in the preparatory program at the Columbus Museum of Art.
"I couldn't have done it without him," Mahan says. Their combined efforts sizzle, and Mahan openings emit New York energy. Stuff is happening.
Mahan Gallery, 1042 N High St. is open Mon-Fri 11-7; Sat-Sun 12-6. 294-3278.
Master Thesis works at Mahan Gallery throughout May: a. Segway #2, by Steve Seeley and b. Finding God, by Fernando Orellana. Gallery Hours: Mon-Fri 11-7, Sat-Sun 12-6.
Sparks and Retrosparks
Congratulations to Victor Mann, exhibiting at Metro Realty 29 E. Russell on Gallery Hop nights. One of his paintings has been accepted into the internationally juried Liturgical Art Show at the Cathedral Basilica in Covington, Kentucky. Visit his Web site at theartofmann.com.
Pastels of the Scioto by Christine Eckerfield will be featured at Artistically Bent, 718 N. High Street, during May. Sounds wonderful. William McCarthy's paintings there are always wonder-full.
Artistically Bent's LightMiners blew me away. These candle screens and electric bulb "shades" - they resemble square vases - remind me of Edwardian times or maybe the 1920s, when homes and house parties shimmered.
The deco-images have been beautifully painted in soft-yet-vibrant colors by Margaux Jones of Seattle. She's the LightMiner who combines photography and Art Nouveau painting.
A lily, a sunflower, lilacs, pale tulips: each design celebrates a specific flower, not a mixed bouquet, and the light, flickering or solid, glows through and behind the lucite shield. "Ocean" is kind of a stacked LightMiner, and gorgeous. Contact Kris at 614-298-8966.
If it's May Hop, Babar Ahmad is hosting an art show at Creative Spot, 42 W. Starr, beginning at 5 p.m. In April his copper and aluminum wall sculptures showed at Image Optical in the Short North
An artist-craftsman, Ahmad is self taught, practiced, and his work displays unusual skill at rendering familiar and unfamiliar subjects. The detail of Michelangelo's Pieta seemed on target. Peacocks stroll The Garden of Delight. Nike is a soaring headless angel. If it's May Hop, pause at Creative Spot. At other times call 614-804-6765.
The one and only Mac Worthington is exhibiting work along with George Kraemer in a joint show, "Technoart-phonic (A Dreamscape in Full Color)" at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) gallery through June 30, 2004. Worthington will show seven new free-standing aluminum sculptures in a "study of the abstract woman: sculptures."
Worthington is an award-winning artist who owns Mac Worthington's located at 749 N. High. He's everywhere, a master at what he does. I gotta say it, Mac is unique in the sculpture realm, and we're lucky to have him around!
Kraemer, an instructor at Arts Annex in Grandview, will include 30 large oils on canvas along with watercolors and graphite drawings in the show. He has also had great works shown at Waldo's salon in the Short North. I like his bigger than American life paintings very much.
Don't Forget! The "93rd Annual Spring Juried Exhibition" of the Ohio Art League, juried by Ingrid Schaffner, curator and writer based in New York. It will be held at the Springfield Museum of Art, June 5 - July 31. Directions? See www.spfld-museum-of-art.org/ or www.oal.org Or call 614-299-8225.
2Co's Gallery remains a glamour niche and a spacious one. In April Heidi and Pattie Kambitsch showed vivid abstract expressionist paintings there, and we hope to see more. 2Co's had a quick change in plans, and the Kambitschs rose to the occasion. Their show was a joy. Heidi and Patti showed strong color-full work. They also presented a children's art show as convened by Rain Maxwell, age 7. Other artists exhibiting: Alex Hatter 7; Susie Stock 6; Rider Stock, age 3, and Kirsten Odenweller, age four. Stars twinkled.
Magic! Rick Borg has been showing art on the street outside, and inside, Sharon Weiss Gallery on Hop nights. Borg's expressionist paintings exude a magical realist's spin: the inner and outer life become fantastical. Subjects run from pancakes in a diner, to the grand canyon, to wily alligators (or crocodiles).
The artist Edward Jekot has opened a fragrance boutique at 8 E. Lincoln. Jekot's interior is gorgeous, like white clouds and crushed ice. There's a fragrance "note" especially for you. Sculptured soaps, candles, art boxes, lotions, perfumes. Each item is handmade by the artist, whose paintings are available through Sharon Weiss Gallery. Jekot's number is 614-327-6513.
"It's all about sculptural notes. Fra-grance is like a piece of music" says the personable Jekot, pronounced "Jay-cot."
At a recent media luncheon, sparkly and efficient Lynnette Santoro-Au, Arts Manager for The City of Upper Arlington, said that in her "leisure" time she's volunteering for the Banc One-sponsored Columbus Arts Festival. She said that at least six artified Orange Barrels will roll thru May and June Hops, via a partnership of the Columbus Arts Festival and the Short North Business Association. Peter Scantland, president of orange/ barrel/outdoor in the Short North is the all-powerful source of the orange barrels.
Through May 21 "Five Japanese Artists in Franklin County" will be exhibited at Upper Arlington's Concourse Gallery. A don't-miss.
Congratulations to Victorians' Midnight Cafe, 251 W. 5th Avenue, for offering space to relevant videos and discussions, and for hosting what I heard was a marvelous birthday party for Vincent Van Gogh at the Hop. On March 31 he was 151 and going strong! Call 299-2295 for food, good beer, music, poetry nights, discussions and art events.
Last but not least, or geesed, Christine Hayes, Samantha Moon of Art Car fame, adorned-embellished-beaded a concrete Lawn Goose for High Road's recent "Bead Show." Perfection. Among other jewels, Goosey-Lucy wore a tiny peacock pendant.
Christine, you've got a potential gold mine, makeovers for Upscale Geese!
(From the April '04 issue)
April's Art-filled skies:
Melissa Meyer at Rebecca Ibel Gallery
April provokes rhapsodizing. Spring skies invite such hyperbole as "iridescent, pregnant, azure fading to lime."
Ultimately, Art, like sky, is about strategic light and color, and April is Her month.
Melissa Meyer's art, which will remain on view at Rebecca Ibel Gallery, 1055 N. High Street, thru April 24, provides an edgy ballet of color. She's a star. She's Now. She's the New York Scene with a crocus in her martini glass.
Meyer's oil canvasses manage to hit several targets at once: they're abstract; they're geometric, curvy, and bold. They're great on the wall, yet they're more substantial than décor. They're simple, not superficial. They're formulaic, not boring.
Meyer's compositional sweep is an intricate one that appears deceptively casual. She knows the power of negative space, and the amount of it varies from canvas to canvas. She tends toward white and yellow in her backgrounds.
Five works hang in Rebecca's second room. Some of them hang lengthwise; some hang up and down.
The Bay of Angels is 60 by 50 inches. The canvas is looped and angled with somber yet upbeat strokes similar to shapes found in large uneven knitting.
These are not blobs, drips or scrapes. They are running brush strokes with soft and hard angles. We note many dark connecting shapes. Meyer's signature aquamarine has been pleasantly mud-died. Her purple whispers with brown, and her wide charcoal-hues dance like bent horseshoes.
The underpainting, as seen through loops and angles, changes from a quiet pink to a dull yellow to a brief section of unabashed lemon. We've seen Winslow Homer's choppy gray sea. Now we can visit Meyer's rainbowy Bay of Angels.
The Bay of Angels is strong on negative space. The Pirate, 30 x 60 inches, is more intensely woven. The interior golds and yellows are bold, and brush strokes have come closer together. Her green-to-aquamarine, plus her lilac-shot-purple, have returned to the canvas. And a smoky on-fire orange makes an appearance. Meyer's overlays of connecting strokes - against each other upon negative space - create perspective for her work.
Melissa Meyer lives and works in New York City. She was born there. She earned her master of arts degree at New York University and teaches at the school of Visual Arts in New York. Her list of one-woman shows includes the Elizabeth Harris Gallery there. She has shown at Gallery Rennee Ziegler in Zurich, Switzer-land, and throughout the U.S.
Writing about her, critic Allan Gurganus described her early Yaddo residency as a milestone experience. During this "rural" interlude says Gurganus, "Meyer discovered designs on birch bark. She discovered that she was not only a high-heeled girl from New York, she was an earthling." (Gurganus also mentioned that Meyers is a "huge Audrey Hepburn fan.")
The artist's work is rich with unabashed and specific colors. Her charcoal strokes may be tinged with absinthe green; her orange red is specifically hers, and you have to pay attention. By her own admission she has been profoundly influenced by Jackson Pollock, by the way color-strokes travel, connect, and disconnect. By the choreography of paint itself.
Metzger's Boxes light up OAL
- Barth's in-the-buff and other artsy stuff
Robert Metzger's "Photographic Light Boxes" were at the Ohio Art League during March. If there is sophisticated art-to-invest-in hereabouts, this is it. Metzger's boxes are wonderful for several reasons.
First. They are attractive and pleasing to the eye. Their mode is neutral, unobtrusive. Modern, not sterile. A Metzger box will look good anywhere, in corporate offices, in chapels, or sitting rooms.
Second. These boxes (each one is actually a kind of abstract painting) are well executed, well put together. Does one use the term "render" when referring to photographs?
Third. Metzger's light-filled boxes are meditative, soothing, spiritual, one might say. They exude the "feel" of the natural world. Because of their soft melding colors they might be described as "tinged with romanticism."
There were four aluminum light boxes in Metzger's March show, which the artist titled "S/Parcel." That's an acronym for Space Parcel. "S/Parcel" also refers to the parcelling out of outer and inner space and to the cutting and splicing of photographic particles.
Butte is shadowy; it evolves when the viewer changes position. All Metzger's boxes change while you are watching. A limestone yellow pervades the space representing sky, or forest or sand. The Butte is a jagged, pointed one, or two. It could just as well represent pine trees or reflections on the water. Similar to the surrounding space, it consists of a system of infinitely small "strokes."
Metzger aptly refers to his work as "minimalist, sparse." He cuts up, dismembers, his own early large photographs. Many, but not all of them, were outdoor scenes. He digitizes, pixilizes, cuts. He paints without painting.
Storm - the electric storm itself gathers in a bright triangular ray. The pale round clouds form a lateral sweep; the tones are faintly magenta and purple. The spirit of old Dutch painters from the Zuyder Zee preside, at least in our imagination.
Nude, approximately the same size as Storm, contains Metzger's familiar yet invisible pixils. The artist has deconstructed a nude photo, and the resulting image, or images, resembles the birth of a sun. The nucleus is white hot surrounded by dull golds. Again, the mood is one of calm, or rather tranquility.
Veneer is, indeed, a deconstructed surprise, to my mind. Look carefully. If you want to know how many angels dance on the head of a pin, this pixilated painting may tell you the color-full answer.
Metzger loves the outdoors, loves to "drink it in." But he rarely takes photographs outside. He's not a plein air sort of guy!
"The light boxes emit more than an exact image," he says. "They emit a mood. They're metaphysical."
Agreed. Metzger is a longtime Columbus resident with shows at Michael Orr Gallery and the Dublin Art Center on his resume. In the last two years, he has won both an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist's grant, and a Greater Columbus Arts Council Individual Artist's grant. (I told you he was good!) Metzger can be contacted through the Ohio Art League, 954 N High Street. Call 299-8225.
The Ohio Art League has continued to expand in sophistication and latitude. It's a top gallery in central Ohio. Up next (it looks like a blast, no pun intended) "Brick By Brick" pays tribute to "Ohio's rich ceramic art and industrial history." Five contemporary artists, each in her own way, celebrate Ohio's place in the clay belt.
Great Hop Night Takeovers: At 27 E. Russell, next door to JungHaus in the same building, Metro Rentals, under the management of Rod E. Lange, shows 11 artists during each Saturday Hop.
Children's work is exhibited downstairs. The entire building becomes a showcase for these way-above-average artists, and the management is generous with their hors d'oeuvres. With Lent and Mel Gibson's film in the air, Victor Mann's large depictions of Jesus were timely. Mann uses a complex acrylic-and-silk-screen process, and the results are laudatory. See heartofmann.com Aimee Lambes' "Angels" flew gorgeously.
You can't rush through 27. Too much is going on. The art is always present but cannot be viewed at non-Hop times without making arrangements at 774-7500.
Metro Rentals offers valet parking for a mere $10 which covers the entire Hop, 6 to 10 pm. Note: JungHaus Gallery at 27 E. Russell is open during regular hours.
Conquering Hero, Favorite Son Craig Carlisle has returned from Los Angeles to spend April at Sharon Weiss Gallery, 20 East Lincoln Street. In January, Carlisle had a highly successful show at the George Billis Gallery in New York City. With his special brand of spiritual and technical aplomb, Carlisle will present a Weiss show that is untitled but features Teddy Birds.
The postcard reveals a sleek gray Teddy Critt with big round eyes, a smiley face grin, and a beak. Teddy Bird Looking into the Light. Ted is one of Carlisle's shoulder-up takes. The artist is famous for his iconic "Big Head" paintings. Congratulations, Craig.
Wright is Back! Although he's never really been gone. Studio B, 1628 West First Avenue in Grandview presents Robert S. Wright in "New Paintings" thru May 8. Wright paints and collages, and collages and paints, with an excellent panache. He's versatile too. He possesses "a handle" on swimming, sledding, film-watching and the American media blitz. As an alum of Rhode Island School of Design, Wright manages to make design and art his business, and to succeed at the enterprise.
Nude and Seminude" will show in the middle room at Barth Gallery, 3047 Indianola Avenue, thru April 15, "perhaps longer," says Director Tom Minnick.
Two Men in the Artist's Studio, an oil on canvas, was painted by Lev Vassiliev Gudskoy in Russia in 1950. Here is post war realism exemplified. Two brawny men nearly fill the canvas. They lean against each other, balance each other off, as do athletes posed for a competition, one knee bent in a classical discus or wrestling pose.
The pair may be actual wrestlers; wrestling is "big" in Russia. Here is "that moment frozen in time" captured by a very good painter. Perhaps the idea of two naked men's touching, even knee to knee, required an element of daring in that era. A detail: the men wear white pads on their private parts! Oh, that control freak Stalin!
Rob Colgan's Passion is not exactly Mel Gibson's passion. The unassuming black-and-white photograph glistens with tenderness. Two naked lovers, shot from the waist up, rest upon each other in a shadowy room. It was somewhat unclear to me whether Colgan's subjects are man and woman, or two men, or - and that is part of the magic. Tenderness and intimacy prevail. A slight irregularity of composi-tion adds to a sense of vulnerability.
If you thought Janet Jackson did something new at the Superbowl, forget it! Behold a gorgeous Japanese print, an untitled woodcut by Upmaro in 1793. Here's an elaborately dressed persona, likely a geisha. And despite the detailed formality of her attire, guess what's exposed?
In 1940, Albert Pels painted Minsky's Star Attraction, a real sweet tomato from the famous burlesque. Here she is, exposed in glittering and curvaceous solemnity. Minsky's Star provided the postcard image for this show.
A Fine Art & Folk opening in the Middle Room at Barth, 3047 Indianola, is a lovely way to spend Sunday afternoon.
Under the expertise of Gary DiSalvo and Eric Barth, both notable artists, Barth framing is unbeatable. Call 263-8133.
(From the Feb. '04 issue)
It's All About People!
One-man exhibit at JungHaus features
work of Gus Brunsman III
"I can't paint worth a durn, but I can paint with light." - August Brunsman III
In February, White Cloud Press will publish The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Culture & Psyche by Daniel Deardorff. August Brunsman III, local computer guru, journeyer and photographer, has captured Deardorff's gentle and indomitable spirit in a photograph. That Deardorff photo is just one of many in Brusman's one-man exhibit, "It's All About People!" at JungHaus, 29 East Russell Street, through February.
Deardorff is severely disabled as a result of polio. Confined to a state-of-the-art motorized chair, he has the use of his arms, not his legs, and his torso is not fully developed. Yet, he can swim, sail, camp out, play drums and guitar, and is a prolific mythopoetic writer. Indeed, the noted poet Robert Bly has referred to Deardorff as the new Joseph Campbell.
In the photo, Deardorff's chair has a black control bar and black pockets for pens and pencils. Deardorff is amiably enthroned. He's kind of chubby and bald, and sports a short, neatly trimmed beard. The photo has captured rosy and delicate skin tones, the complexion of a healthy man. His undershirt is hiked up. We see a splash of blue denim, probably a sleeve, and a swatch of deerskin, real or artificial, à la Davy Crocket.
Deardorff has been caught smiling, looking directly at us, through Brunsman's lens. We perceive the writer as a mystical, happy guy, tough and perceptive. Maybe with a touch of the devil. We see those qualities in the clear blue eyes and the amiable grin.
"It just seems to happen," Brunsman says. "I capture the expression in eyes. I know it's a cliché, but the eyes are the windows of the soul."
Brunsman also has captured the white-haired poet Robert Bly in a fine no-frills portrait. Yet, the poet's élan and ferocity are apparent. They show through his eyes and Brunsman's eyes. The eyes are those of the photographer, the poet and the beholder.
Bly is famous for his path-breaking book, Leaping Poetry, and for Iron John, in which he celebrates a Wild Man tradition. He also convenes Great Mother Conferences around the nation each year. Brunsman, a dedicated Jungian and Jung Association of Central Ohio member, has attended the last three conferences, the most recent at Orcas Island in Seattle.
"It's All About People!" includes many portraits from the Great Mother Conference that took place in the wild rural area of Orcas Island, where earth-loving people shared ideas and activities. John Dinsmore, a drummer from The Doors, was there, and so was Sobonfu Somé, an expert in African story and ritual. David Whetstone was around playing the sitar, with Marcus Wise on the tabla. Lots of other interesting folks have made their way into Brunsman's sights. He carried a 35mm Minolta, a gift from his beloved Nicole, everywhere. Recently it wore out, and now he uses a Fuji. Nicole is still adored.
In other Brunsman photos, Short North restaurateur Kent Rigsby poses alone in his state-of-the-art kitchen. In one frame, Kent's arm is around his lovely wife Tasi. At the Columbus Shamrock Club, three pretty young women, scantily clad - not unusual these days - look straight up at the camera. The eyes have it. These three have high spirits. They're having fun, likely by sharing girl talk. Their joy flies straight into Brunsman's camera and out to us. No wonder this is a special moment. Judy Fasone, singing her own folk songs, appears as a small figure in this photo.
Another Brunsman delight is Shezronne Zaccardi, a dancer at Ohio State University, shown resting on the grass with JC, her six-month-old son Juan Carlos. And there is David Lee, poet laureate of Utah, photographed at a reading of his narrative poetry in the library at Logan, Ohio. The guy is not only good-looking and a poet laureate, he's also a pig farmer.
The Man Behind the Camera
August E. Brunsman III grew up in Kettering, where his family owned Dayton Process Engravers. His uncle and father were photographers, and when Gus was 15 his dad loaned him a Contax 35-mm camera and told him the best way to learn to take pictures is to take pictures. Gus carried the camera wherever he went, photographing people, exposing more than a quarter-mile of film, he says.
He built a darkroom in his backyard, kept accounts and named his business aebIII Photos. He broke even financially and won several photo competitions, including the 1960 Senior Scholastic contest. In 1961 he sold his equipment and dropped photography to concentrate on college and a career. At the University of Dayton, he earned a degree in German and at OSU he earned a master's in medical sociology.
Brunsman is one of thousands of Americans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder. He's a journeyer and a survivor. He believes Jungian theory and therapy have enabled him to live more fully, to do more than survive.
He runs a successful business, Easy-Rater Computer Systems. He travels and has visited Jung's grave and the Jung Institute at Kusnacht, Switzerland, and the Jung "castle" at Bollingen. Through thousands of hours in therapy he has prevailed, walking the mythic hero's journey to the real self. He has two great kids and a wonderful partner, Nicole.
Brunsman, of Swiss-German origin, finds his mastery of the German language quite helpful. "Germans are perfectionists," he says, claiming that quality bolsters his photographic and computer ability. "I can internalize. I can create programs for very specific needs."
He has marketed and designed computer programs and systems for corporations, businesses, schools and ordinary people. His father now must have a caregiver-helper and through Gus's empathy, she has become less timid and is using the computer. "Her world is opening up," Gus says.
For years Brunsman's interest in photography lay dormant. In April 2002, an exhibit, "Sacred Thrones: Honoring Our Mothers" was shown at the JungHaus, a fascinating array of rehabbed chairs once belonging to a number of Columbus-area mothers, recycled with art and artifacts at the hands of their daughters. Brunsman took photos of this unique exhibit for JungHaus that were later printed in the Short North Gazette. He's been off and running ever since. Hence, "It's All About People!" at JungHaus.
Brunsman's show is nourished by his strong belief in the Jungian concept of mask and shadow, which hides the authentic or true side of the Self - the Soul. The shadow is the sum of those characteristics we wish to conceal from the world and ourselves. The mask, or persona, is how we present ourselves to the world. Brunsman believes the soul, the totality of an individual's psychic make-up, is revealed through the eyes of the subjects in his photographs. "We first see ourselves reflected in the eyes of our mother. In a way, she takes our first photograph," he says.
When we look at Brunsman's photographs, among them many fine portraits, are we looking into his eyes, our own eyes or the eyes of his subjects?
Brunsman is totally engaged. His life revolves around myth, journey and community. He has been active in the Adopt-A-School program and in the 1990s won several awards for his work at Linden McKinley High School.
He loves poetry, recites it and has memorized many poems by the mystical Persian poet, Rumi, from whom he'll gladly recite at an instant's request. Like most poetry lovers, Gus is gregarious, likes to "chew the fat" in bars and coffeehouses.
Sitting at Caribou Coffee, he once wrote, with another habitué, Rialyo, I don't know who you are. You're not wearing your mask. You wonder if I like what I see and you know you needn't ask.
Hard Rain Doesn't Stop First Hop
As New Year Opens in Arts District
Gallery Hop, January 3, 2004, 3pm: Cold rain in torrents. I've tied a piece of clear plastic around my head, under my chin, like a babushka. I think of Kathe Kollwitz and those working women in scarves. I'm walking the Short North. I want to hear artists and curators talk about the state of art, not in depth, just randomly.
A solitary intern, Elliott Ward from Dayton, is manning ROY G BIV, 997 North High Street. He's a freshman majoring in illustration at Columbus College of Art and Design. I ask him, out of the blue, "What's new, what do you see on the art scene, here and nationally?" He's tall, quiet, dressed slightly African and arty in an understated professional way. He's a polite guy. Thus, he responds calmly: "Many things are new in art. I'm not certain much is substantial, has depth of meaning. People like to see décor, what looks nice on the wall. That's natural, and artists want to sell."
He pauses, then adds, "I like to play music when I have spare time. I'm a drummer. Sometimes I think music does a better job at reaching out. It's not as burdened by aesthetics. There are a lot of bands at CCAD. I mean, on the contemporary scene, music is often able to express ideas that a segment of the art establishment would rather shove under the table. Music can give ideas an extra push. Lyrics can speak directly to ordinary people. I'm directing my main efforts toward drawing right now, and I like that."
A sports theme dominated ROY G BIV with attention-grabbing work. Michael Carmen Tanzillo, a painter, used sports face paint for his poster-sized abstracts. Dustin Ogdin photographed and manipulated sports action figures. Sculptor Chris Mateer used plywood, foam and other tech materials for zany sculptures. The result? A mind-blowing show. I had to revive myself with one of those squirty sports gizmos. Diana Matuzak, the new co-director, explained Tanzillo's work: "You can buy Browns face paint, and so on."
At the Ohio Art League, 954 North High Street, Mabi Ponce de Leon, trim in black and white, prepares for the opening of Fertile Ground, a significant mixed media series in earth tones. Ponce de Leon, a Bexley high school art teacher, has integrated her baby's karyotype, a DNA map, into the work, using those symbols as the impetus for an outstanding show. For mastery of her media, for originality in concept and its precise execution, for lyricism, Ponce De Leon wins the Muse's Choice Award.
What's happening that's good? "They're smart," Ponce de Leon says about her students. "They know everything. News, what's out there, politics, what's happening. It's a great time for ideas and implementing them. We can scan, print, collage, use digital images. The students, myself, everyone, we can express ourselves in a completely free way."
I notice shell shapes on a woman's torso that resembles a complex map. "Oh, I love shells," Mabi says. "Origins, the sea as mother. Our culture, in general, doesn't value art, but these are exciting times. Through new, accessible, instant images we can see not only the present and the new but also can find objects from ancient times and cultures, and honor them with art. They are art."
Kiaca Gallery recently opened at 941 North High Street. Mother is present with, and through, large classical and surreal oil paintings, including the rather symbolist Ma Milk and Ma Love. The featured artist and curator, Talle Bamazi, attributes his success to his mother.
The painting for which Bamazi won the Dahesh Prize depicts a nearly life-size African man lifting a lantern toward a dark sky from which light streams. Bamazi hales from Togo, West Africa. He graduated recently with a master's degree in fine art from the New York Academy of Art. Before that he enjoyed a successful career abroad and in the United States. Actually, Bamazi won the Dahesh Prize twice at the New York Academy show. The Dahesh Museum in Manhattan fosters the relevance of classical and academic painting to contemporary art.
Bamazi feels strongly, correctly, that Columbus needs a gallery for African-born artists. "I chose Columbus, because Columbus chose me," he says. "The Nubians came here thousands of years ago. They were superb navigators. They discovered America. And these calabashes, here on the floor, they're intended to offer hospitality. That's the way in Africa. That's why we opened Kiaca in December 2003."
February brings a show of work by Makudy Sall, Tafa, Ba Rah, Tesfaya, Pierre Trabi and Bamazi to the Kiaca Gallery.
Affordable Art is a gem that beckons from a basement window in the Greystone Building, 815 North High Street. Todd E. Beistel, illustrator, and Jennifer Beistel, freelance writer, are gallery sitting. So is a tall Don Quixote in wood. Beistel's vivid pop images of American icons enliven a wall. "You can't tell where you're heading if you don't know where you've been," Todd says. His inspiration, N.C. Wyeth, agrees, if silently, and so do Elvis Presley and Albert Einstein.
The talented Beistel, from Canton, says he likes living where there are so many art venues. He likes the idea that more galleries will open, but hopes "it doesn't get too big and eat itself up." He remarks that much contemporary art doesn't seem to resonate emotionally. Beistel praised Ray Estrada for his efforts in the community, in art and for his plans to open a blues bar at his restaurant. Todd is one of several artists in an ongoing exhibit at Estrada's Mexican Restaurant, 240 King Avenue.
The rain is driving hard against the basement window and running five or six inches deep in the street. I dread going into the night, but turn the corner into Sean Christopher Fine Art in Greystone Court, 815 North High. Talk about a gorgeous gallery! It's lovely and spacious. Erica Carey's large charcoals? Super, sharp-edged and skilled. The subject? Wrecked buildings, inspired by photo-records dumped by a fire insurance company.
Johnny Aquarius' Summer at Edgewater, sea urchins and shells painted on textured and treated paper napkins, provides a treat for my drowning psyche. From Aquarius I discover that photographer Nate Larson- remember the ROY G BIV show? - is teaching at Elgin Community College. From Aquarius I hear, guess what, "there seems to be a lot of slick work around."
He uses "slick" more than once. I ask him if by slick he means finished, and he replies, yes, that's it. He does like the way artists use various materials, such as foam, vinyl, face paint or dinner napkins. He said he believes "a lot of exciting things will happen when the High Street Cap is opened, with more and different kinds of art."
Johnny Aquarius, aka John McCutcheon, is married to Cathy McCutcheon, a social worker, and the two perform much community outreach. Their twin sons usually are at Gallery Hop events. Eleven-year-old Sean Christopher told me he would like to have a cat and that he plans to have 11 children. (Hope I quoted the correct twin.)
Work by McCutcheon and Ed Tomlinson will be at the Fort Hayes Shot Tower Gallery, 546 Jack Gibbs Boulevard, through February 13. Tomlinson is showing paintings and McCutcheon is showing "Here's Looking at You," digital photos, an installation revealing the eyes of Fort Hayes students.
Preparing for the stormy January Gallery Hop, Duff Lindsay sits alone at a cluttered desk in Lindsay Gallery, 986 North High. He's always a generous, erudite interview subject. Chad Sines's exciting new work is the exhibit at Lindsay Gallery until mid-February. Bright and audacious, Sines's new paintings have grown more complex and intense. What's happening in art? Duff responds: "The art scene is constantly evolving, and certainly, in my genre, Folk and Outsider, things remain wonderfully inclusive. Academic art backgrounds aren't a deficit, but they're certainly irrelevant to the genre."
Lindsay is one of the nation's foremost experts in Folk and Outsider art. He'll soon show the work, exact date uncertain, of the noted visionary artist Anthony Joseph Salvatore, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, now deceased. Salvatore's naive paintings bear such titles as Revelations 22, Verse 21. With work at Cavin-Morris Gallery in Manhattan, Salvatore is listed in the Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. As a Pentecostal preacher, the only steady job the artist ever had was "painting in the service of God."
Lindsay's attitude toward Folk and Outsider and the art world in general? "Art is my passion and I like being around artists. They're passionate about what they do. I'm successful at art venues and conferences throughout the United States, but the exciting thing about Columbus is that people here have eclectic tastes, and they're not inhibited by what they're supposed to like."
Advice from 2Co's Cabaret, 790 North High Street, and J.T. Walker: Look for those buskers, agile street performers and musicians. They're unafraid of snow and rain. Look for Andrew Lundberg's art at the 2Co's gallery through February and March.
We hope the Short North arches glitter before spring. The gateway for the New Year is wide open. See, buy, create art.
(From the Jan. '04 issue)
Talents abloom at Studios on High
There's always something new and surprising at artists' co-op
Studios on High, 686 N. High Street, an extraordinary art venue, contin-ues to flower with new talents. Founded in 1985, it began as Lantz Armstrong Gallery and became Studios on High in 1987. Co-founder and master weaver Ruth Lantz says that pm gallery is the oldest gallery boutique in the Short North, with Studios on High, a commer-cially viable co-op, running a close second.
There's always something new and surprising at Studios on High. One of those somethings? Fran Mangino watercolorist brought her "Girl" paintings to Studios around two years back. A recent visit revealed that she is now painting land-scapes in watercolors, and the results are appealing and well executed.
Fran, a member of COWS, Central Ohio Watercolor Society, is out there in plein air capturing rural scenes. Dawn in Pataskala, Ohio, West of Mt. Vernon, and Winter Orchard provide lyrical yet strong examples of Mangino's new direction.
Jeff Hersey is exhibiting and selling framed metal abstractions at Studios on High. They're black-framed, matted geo-metrics which, despite their sharp angles and edges, manage to emit the soft-edge effect of abstract expressionism. The pieces are medium sized, around 18 x 18 inches; the frames are part of the sculpture.
Hersey has a studio in which he can do kiln firing, torch firing, fusing, acid baths, hand-thrown and sifted enamel; wet enamel painting, folding and hammering.
His mediums include: copper, pewter, silver, gold, tin, stone, glass, and layered transparent vitreous (glass) enamel!
Hersey notes that the pewter industry was historically so regulated that workers could be jailed if they violated standard practices. The challenge of discovering new applications, "spontaneous colors textures, and forms" beyond traditional techniques is an inspiration.
The artist's work has been installed in private homes throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as in corporations.
Equilibrium contains three pewter strips, two large, one small, over blue-fused glass. Hung horizontally, the painting is framed in deep blue pewter-wrapped fabric against a dark mat on which the main structure floats. Go With the Flow uses strips of copper, a black interior, melted green glass on copper.
It is the slight and deliberate irregu-larity of Hersey's sculpture, minimalist, gleaming and precise, that makes it so appealing.
Each artist at Studios on High is from Central Ohio. Angela Gelasi, pastel-list, is among the new stars at Studios. Gelasi studied fine arts at CCAD and Northern Illinois University. She has been an artist all her life, working as a designer and sculptor as well as a painter, but portraiture has become her primary focus these days, something she considers "a continual revelation and education."
Gelasi regards the human form as the pinnacle of nature's expression, and especially loves painting portraits of children, noting that "all the potential of humanity is wrapped in the expression of a child." She studied under nationally recognized teachers including Margaret Carter Baumgaertner, Judith Carducci, and Paul Levielle among others. She accepts commissioned works, and her display examples are super!
Gelasi is a contemporary romantic (romantic, not nostalgic). Her palette is warm yet muted. Her landscapes, although "recognizable" vibrate with an ethereal panache that is the hallmark of an expert pastel artist. Autumn Road and Before the House are familiar if representative out-door scenes. In Along the Road, the old red church is set not in the wild wood, but on a familiar road, at least in our psyches.
A pastel is a pastel. Yet, Gelasi's work contains an admirable painterliness. (Per-haps a pastellist might say an oil painter's work contains an admirable pastellism!)
The artist lives with her husband, Ed, their son, Austen, a German Shepherd and two mouser cats on a 10-acre farm on the outskirts of Centerburg.
If you are interested in discussing portrait paintings with Angela Gelasi, she can be reached at 740-625-7604.
The Muse Award for The Best Surprise at Studios on High: "Two Sues." Sue Shape and Sue Vogel are presenting gourds at Studios on High. Yes, gourds as art, and they're gorgeous! A delight! Large, stained, scraped hollow, and embellished gourds. Round, like huge pumpkins, and oval, like ancient urns, they have been stained in translucent colors.
"None of the gourds are painted," Sue Shape said. "Natural staining allows the inherent specks, mottles, disfigurations and original colors to show through."
She added, "My dad grows these special gourds on a farm near Xenia. It takes six months to a year for them to dry. After that they're hollowed out. Pumpkins rot. But gourds will dry out. When they dry out they become like wood, light, like balsa.
"Long ago I took a basket-weaving workshop from a Native Ameri-can teacher in a tiny town in Colorado, the Rocky Mountains. We spent most of the time making baskets, but we did some gourds too, and I loved them.
"Gourds are ancient and indigenous. My friend from Nigeria remembers that in her childhood she saw people carrying water in gourds. Gourds were the first vessels used for water or grain. These gourds are decorative They aren't really waterproof and they don't like too much sun."
I picked up a large dull green gourd. It was around 17 inches in diameter. Hollow, dry, light and hard. The neck was embellished. Most of the gourds are embellished, with seeds, feathers, or beads. The Two Sues like to use pine needles from Georgia. They drill holes for attachments of coiling. The dull green gourd was necklaced with pine needles dyed black.
Many of the gourds possess adornments that suggest needlework and attachments evident on vintage saddlebags made by the Sioux. They have that "feel." The surfaces of gourds tend to resemble smoothed hides. Each gourd emits a mixture of ancient and modern vibrations.
The Two Sues, Sue Shape and Sue Vogel, work together on the gourd art-work, and each artisan has mastered every step in the process.
Coming in January, and new to Studios, will be artist Clay Sneller who paints, in oils, buildings and spaces we'll recognize.
Studios on High, located at 686 N. High Street is open Monday thru Saturday, Noon to 6 pm; Sunday 1 - 6 pm. For more information, call 461-6487.
A Volcano of Sparks
MOHRPC: Digital Realms and Visions Unremitting
Looks like a triple winner! "Digital Realms," computer fractal art by Alice Kelley and David Ziels, will show thru January 30 at The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's (MORPC) Art in the Halls, located at 285 East Main Street.
Even if you're not crazy about computer art, even if you're fond of saying, as I do, "She picks up a brush and paints with her own two hands," you should find this show fascinating. If you're a trekkie, so much the better!
Curator Laura Koprowski says Alice Kelley has returned to MORPC by popular demand. This is Kelley's first show with David Ziels. Kelley and Ziels are full-time computer artists. Kelley creates abstract "fractal" art derived from equations. (Her program is Ultra Fractal!) David Ziels "paints" spaceships and planetscapes. His program incorporates 3-D models.
Some works are collaborations by the two artists. - Remember, the title "Digital Realms" can refer to views that resemble oceanscapes and expanded microscopic views. Go, write stories and poems about what you see! Also write stories and poems about the accompanying show "Visions Unremitting."
Koprowski was enthusiastic in her praise of 15 super-large prints by CCAD instructor Kathy L. McGhee. The majority of her prints are linoleum; some are intaglio, and there is one woodcut.
Koprowski described McGhee as quiet, reserved.
"People are really intrigued and startled by her work. It's precise, intricate, highly unusual. In my opinion her work is kind of a social commentary. Yet, many of her grotesque creatures are versions of toys."
McGhee's prints are rather large, some of them 3' x 5' and 3' x 6'. Koprowski says the instructor has access to equipment at CCAD. Available technology and work space enable her to push size to the limit. Linoleum prints emerge from an excru-ciating process, and McGhee appears to have met the challenge with zest.
Her dark, finely detailed Visionary is replete with looming wings, a confusion of rubble, birds, tendrils, roots, slats. A grotesque bird roosts on top!
To my mind Visionary is a contem-porary echo, in mood and tone, of the original illustrations for Paradise Lost, and suggests the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedy. Koprowski says the bird of omen on top of the rubble is a distorted rubber ducky!
Weird birds, crows, beaks open wide, caw in Kathy McGhee's dreadful land-scapes. The weird green figures in Raucous Outcry are magpies!
McGhee writes "The viewers may insert themselves and their experiences into the metaphor they see before them."
MORPC, located downtown at 285 E. Main Street, is open weekdays from 8 am-5 pm. Admission is free. Call 233-4126.
Gallery V and Moore
At Gallery V paintings by James B. Moore will be exhibited thru January 10. Lynne Muskoff, curator, will continue to represent Moore's work.
The artist is a realist and an oil painter par excellence. His paintings are breath-takingly simple, and he has continued to elude cliché and ornamentation. His still lifes are not the scrolled silver trays laden with grapes, lobsters, oyster knives, and hyacinths, evident in works by old masters.
Moore has his own creative spin on reality. And boy, do we need it! Simplicity and reverence, appreciation. These quali-ties reign in this new master's creations.
Four White Onions displayed against a white linen cloth and a pale wall, form a painting that is nearly monochromatic. Yet, the impeccably rendered onions, the soft-touch modulation of shadow and tone, induce a meditative experience. The artist says that he is trying to "express a sense of constant now, timeless, ageless ... to celebrate that all material existence is a manifestation of an intelligent creative force - God."
Caught forever in red and green brilliance, Six Mangoes gleam from a faintly dented and tarnished copper kettle that rests smack dab in the middle of a precisely folded table cloth. - Well, it's a metal kettle, certainly not aluminum, steel, or silver. The table cloth is a gray one with a dull gold pattern; it suggests brocade, and the wall behind the mangoes is a mottled gray. Each precisely executed detail is unobtrusive, and all of the details meld, work together to form a harmonic whole.
Whether Moore paints a Single Iris in a glass vase, or a cluster of Tangelos, or Two Black Jugs he ensnares us in a moment of, if not awe, appreciation. New to his efforts are the fine landscapes, quieter, smaller, like sonatinas. Be sure to seek them out.
Moore has an MFA in painting from The Art Center, College of Design in Pasadena, California. From 1986 to 1993 the artist was assistant professor of art at CCAD. His exhibits and accolades are numerous. He is often shown at Schmidt-Bingham Gallery in New York City and will remain available thru Gallery V.
A Flock of Flochs
Master ceramist Jenny Floch is exactly the right companion for Moore's splendidly arranged show. This is all new stoneware (and some porcelain) work. These vessels - bowls, vases, rounded hangings and containers, softly curved and dented -have been glazed in subdued colors: in pale robins-egg-blues, or tans and greens and other earth tones, shiny and dull.
Flochs are lovely! They require second and third looks because of their muted individuality. As are Moore's paintings Floch's works are, in a graceful pay-attention mode, meditative objects. Outstanding as sculpture or as gifts and keepsakes, each is one of a kind.
Opening at Gallery V on January 17 and running thru February 21, will be another first-class show. Oil paintings and pastels by Chi-Kit Kwong who is excitingly new to the Columbus scene, and drawings by the wonderful Katharine Kadish.
Aren't We Lucky!
Walkin' thru the Art Museum
An enchanted afternoon at the Columbus Museum of Art. The show is gone now, but we remember, with joy, Carl Fabergé's miniature animals in precious and semi- precious jewels: The mother pig with a litter. The inch-high elephants. Tiny stone sea lions.
We relished the unsurpassed craftsman-ship from a jeweler's firm that survived the reign of three Czars. The pale jade green Easter egg studded with pink (rose) diamonds! A tiny elephant carved in semi precious stone used to live inside the green egg, but he, or she, came up missing after the Revolution. This elephant, barely an inch high, could wiggle and wobble!
We saw an Imperial Easter egg which, opened, revealed a tiny yet accurate replica of the winter palace. The exquisite jewel boxes and cigarette cases. The concealed bells which summoned maids and butlers. The reverberations of a dark history seemed for an hour to glitter like a ballerina's diamond collar. Aren't we lucky!
Aren't we lucky to have such a fashion guru among us as Charles Kleibacker who made the not-so-basic Black Dress possible. "Powerful Presence in 20th-Century Dress," which showed at the Museum thru January 4, was curated by Kleibacker and included some 70 garments Delightful, delovely! Lily Dache, Christian Dior, Adrian. They were all there.
Aren't we lucky to have an Art Museum with a sophisticated eclectic approach? Fabergé and his jewels will vanish in early snow. The Black Dress will be packed away on January 4. Yet, a show of Buddhist Meditational Art, "The Circle of Bliss," will open on February 6!
In the meantime, Lino Tagliapietra's "Concerto in Glass" will show thru March.
A Blizzard of Sparks
RetroSpark: "Aqua & Verde" - more than a spark! Ric Akers, a favorite, is becoming bolder, more of a colorist and, obstinately, fortunately for us, continues to paint plein air. Isle Among Jewels glowed from a rich and dedicated palette as did others of the intrepid painter's east coast scenes. Akers' recent show "Aqua & Verde" will no longer be up in January, but his work continues to be available thru Sharon Weiss Gallery, 20 E. Lincoln Street.
In January, run, don't walk to Jung-Haus to see Gus Brunsman's photos which we'll review for next month. See ya at the opening! Belated congratu-lations to Renee Kropat who hosted a preview of completed artwork to be installed in the new Mt. Carmel St. Ann's Women's Pavilion in early 2004. Christine Hayes has been part of this wonderful effort.
Congratulations to the ubiquitous and talented Marge Bender and Barbara Vogel who will show "Then and Now" at The Ohio State University Faculty Club thru February 27. Correction: Yamano's glass art will continue at Thomas Riley Galleries thru January 2004.